1392. He prayeth best, who loveth best all things great and small; for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There are 100,000 or so species of insects 
native to the United States. More than 1/3 
of these have been found in Texas. 
Texas has more different kinds of 
insects than any other state. 
~From a Texas Gov’t. publication
found on the Internet

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There is simply never a shortage of “beasties” on Texas soil especially when the temperatures soar. “Things great and small,” lovable and loathsome, have been on the move in the water, in the air, and on the land. Some float, some flutter, some fly, some are fleet of foot, some feed on the earth’s grasses and some crawl, slither, or graze in them. Scripture tells us that the good Lord saw that all He made was good, but being a less than perfect mortal, I struggle with loving and seeing the good in “all things great and small.” The fact that spiders, snakes, and “skeeters” bite and can kill has always had a great deal to do with my disdain for earth’s not so charming and/or endearing creatures. However, when I became an avid gardener, I began realizing more and more the intentionality of all that God made. Working the soil helped me see the genius of the “string of life” that connects everything on earth together in a beneficial series of interdependencies. Creation, on a grander scale of course, is much like the human body–everything in it is connected and it all works together for the good of the whole. In light of that complete awareness, slowly but surely, I’m learning to be more tolerant of the earth’s less endearing creatures. Toiling under the sun in all the seasons has shown me that built into Creation’s tapestry are purpose and provisions for all that God made. That awareness, despite my difficulty in embracing all of the “beasties” who dwell here in Texas has engendered and enlarged my trust, love, and faith in the Lord’s plans and His purposes as well as an acceptance of all that He has made.

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How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. When You send your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth. -Psalm 104:24, 30  ✝

1353. Timeless thoughts of a winter’s stare; eyes gazing over a landscape bare. ~Michael A. Barron

Gray, endless shades of
Gray, winter’s somber suit of
Gray, the season’s shroud

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Beige, broad blankets of
Beige, chilling frosts turn green to
Beige, on what we trod

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Color, drear shades of
Color, muted, faint hues of
Color, in stark realm

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Winter, the woe of
Winter, shall soon be gone for
Winter, bows to spring

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As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I(God) desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:10-11  ✝

**All 4 haikus written by Natalie; most images from Pinterest; collages by Natalie; a few of the images in the last collage are ones I’ve taken in past winters

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

1312. Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. ~Rabindranath Tagore

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt,
finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything.
~William Shakespeare

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When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
~Mary Oliver

The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. ~Excerpt from Genesis 2:9  ✝

1310. Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.~George Eliot

Trickle, trickle, trickle! Plop, plop, plop! How
Steadily the sand falls in the year’s hourglass.
Wait, wait, wait. Day after day we’ve waited
Until at long last you stepped ever so lightly
Through a door which opened months ago.

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How is it that I’m so sure of your presence now?
What is it that speaks loudly of your arrival?
Perhaps it’s the changed hue of a once green leaf,
Or the gusty winds, from both north and south.

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Or could it be the chilled hours at dawn and again
At day’s end? Or it could be the slant of golden
Light, or the nip in the air, or the richness of colors
No longer faded by summer’s miserable heat.

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Or just maybe it’s being able to dally on mellow
Afternoons, or it could be seeing northers
Push hard against the garden’s weathervane
Or maybe it’s the deep blue of the skies above.

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Last season and fourth child of the year,
Autumn, golden, splendid, glorious autumn,
You are late in coming but you’re finally here
And oh, oh, oh, how very welcome you are!

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Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. ~Psalm 136:1  ✝

**All of these photos were taken by me in and around my neighborhood today. I know many of you have been enjoying autumn for some time, but the colorful part of ours didn’t starting happening until recently. I know not how long it will last since we are rapidly approaching the Winter Solstice but I shall enjoy ever minute of it until winter topples her and sits on its chilly throne.

1237. Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them. ~Vincent McNabb

What is Hope? a star that gleaming
O’er the future’s troubled sky,
Struggles, tremulously beaming,
To reveal what there may lie.
~R.A.P., “Hope,” in 
Southern Literary Messenger,
December 1840

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In one of my posts today appear the following lines: “Deep at the center of your being is an infinite well of gratitude. Allow this gratitude to fill your heart, your body, your mind, your consciousness, your very being. This gratitude will radiate out from you in all directions, touching everything in your world, and return to you as more to be grateful for.” And I am living proof that this is absolute truth. I’ve mentioned in some of my early blogs that after my father’s death when I was 18, my faith journey was derailed for quite some time. And for years following that things happened that caused me to become very cynical about life. What I didn’t realize was that what’s inside our hearts and minds becomes evident as well in our faces and our demeanor, and bitter cynicism does not make one pretty or welcoming. About 20 years ago after I finally reconnected with the Lord, slowly but surely gratitude began to swell inside me despite the fact that I still walked physically painful and trying paths. Then after surviving a stroke with negligible, residual effects nearly 4 years ago, my gratitude took another huge leap so much so that it is as it says above “radiating out in all directions touching everything in my world.” One of the ways it has become blatantly obvious is the way strangers, people I run into in my day to day doings and goings, respond and interact with me. It’s as if we become friends almost instantly. For example, about month ago we went to a new restaurant to eat, and a young girl of a different skin color, brought us our food and though I can’t remember now why, something happened that made us both laugh. As a result when we left that day, she  walked after us to wish us a good day. Then the next week when we went in she brought us our food again and engaged us in a brief conversation as though we were friends who’d known each other for quite a while. As we left that day there was another warm good-bye and well wishes given to us. In week number three, a different waiter brought us our food, but soon afterwards she stopped by our table to say hello, tell us she was sorry she didn’t get to bring us our food, and she chatted with us for a few minutes. Also. on the way out the door which had been broken, she made a point of coming over to tell us to be careful and watch out for the broken glass. This brings us to yesterday when we ate there again (yes, we really do like their food), once more a different waiter brought us our food, but it wasn’t long before she came over to our table to give me a hug and ask us how things were going. So what’s the point of my story about all this? With all the black lives matter drama that has stirred up racial unrest again, it has restored my hope that we can in fact all learn to get along with one another. However, it has to begin with each and everyone of us and our willingness to look at people through the eyes of our heart and not through the judgmentally-learned eyes of our faces. Before I go here’s one last blessing that has helped restore hope in me. My blog has now reached 70% of the world’s countries, and so I have garnered lots of followers of different ethnicities and cultures, all of whom have proven to be lovely people with a willingness to accept others different from themselves as well as engage in pleasant exchanges with them. And so to end I want to share some things Audrey Hepburn had to say along similar lines:

I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most. To laugh cures a multitudes of ills.
I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.
I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.
Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile.
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness, and for poise, walk in the knowledge that you are never alone.

When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. ~Job 29:24  ✝

**Image via the Internet

1235. SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me! ~Walt Whitman

Stranger, if you passing meet me
and desire to speak to me,
why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?
~Walt Whitman

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I felt suddenly like Walt Whitman last night
in the parking lot of Rainbow Foods,
still dazzled from a poetry reading I’d attended,
fresh ponds of rain shining between cars.
I smiled at boy pushing shopping cart;
he smiled back, it was wonderful!
Inside, I watched a man with dreadlocks
carefully bag the cookies he bought.
I observed four brown-eyed children unload
a paycheck’s worth of groceries for their mother.
Listen, I know we’re all of us hiding bruises,
but when a veil seems to lift,
it doesn’t always reveal sorrow.
I saw ordinary people holding doors
for each other, saying please, and
the sky, when I left, was incredibly lavender.
~Francine Marie Tolf

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come before Him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. ~1 Chronicles 16:29  ✝

**Image via Pinterest