1394. I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. ~John Steinbeck

There’s a vastness here(Texas) 
and
I believe that the people who
 are born
here breathe 
that vastness into their soul.
They dream big dreams 
and think big thoughts,
because 
there is nothing to hem them in.
~Conrad Hilton

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I wasn’t born here in Texas although my mother was, and we didn’t move here until I was 13 years old. Then in college I met and married a born and bred Texas man who put an end to any dreams I might have had of ever leaving here. But I’ve come to love much of the mystique and the vastness of the unique Texas experience just NOT the intense summer and sometimes into autumn heat. It has always very been difficult for me to withstand these excessively sweltering temperatures as well as their often accompanying high levels of humidity. So until it begins months later to subside again and being ever-so-thankful for air-conditioning I incarcerate myself indoors. Unfortunately my self-imposed imprisonment lasts much longer than I would like. However, the Lord in His goodness always answers our calls of distress and finds ways to provide that which we need in some way. So it was when I bought a house with lots of windows so I can still see outside and then later purchased a digital camera to record outdoor scenes and store them on my computer for indoor viewing. Now at least I don’t feel so totally cut off from nature. How blessed are we that the work of His hands is as apparent as ever in His world.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress… May He send you help from the sanctuary… May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your praise offerings. May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy…and…lift up banners in the name of God. May the Lord grant all your requests. ~Excerpts from Psalm 20:1-5 ✝

Well it’s bulls and blood
It’s dust and mud
It’s the roar of a Sunday crowd
It’s the white in his knuckles
The gold in his buckle
He’ll win the next go ’round
It’s boots and chaps
It’s cowboy hats
It’s spurs and latigo
It’s the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain
And they call the thing rodeo
These are excerpted lyrics from a song
by Garth Brooks entitled RODE0

**All but two photos in my collage above were taken by me

1382. Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon…

…A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed,
we would launch one. It would explode high in the air-
explode softly-and send thousands, millions,
of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth –
boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either –
not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four,
with the sharpener built right in.
~Excerpted lines by Robert Fulghum

Today I ran across this photo that I took one afternoon last fall. I had been outside looking for signs of coming fall when I noticed a large patch of weeds in my front flowerbed. After I sat down to pull them, I heard a strange, fiery kind of noise overhead. It wasn’t a fire breathing dragon as I first feared it might be but instead this hot air balloon making its way right over the top of my house. The big bright balloon was a colorful, fanciful thing, and for some strange reason the first thing I thought of was Fulghum’s whimsical parody about a Crayola bomb. At least to me the balloon looked like something that might be on a mission to drop something fun on those of us below. In fact the balloon itself almost looks like a crayola drawing. Then as I pondered writing about the pretty thing, I remembered the old 5th Dimension’s song from the 70‘s wherein the listener is hears “Would you like to ride in my beautful balloon…

Up, up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon.
The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon;
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon.
We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky.
Suspended under a twilight canopy
We’ll search the clouds for a star to guide us.
We can float among the stars together,
you and I, for we can fly.”
~Excerpted and edited lyrics
by the 5th Dimension

Something extraordinary had turned an ordinary day into one of delight especially for my inner child.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into eternal continuity that keep us.
Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.
So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.
~Excerpt from TO BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US,
by John O’Donohue

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. -Psalm 23:6 ✝

 

1362. Your smile tells me more than words will ever say. ~Author Unknown

Smile with your lips, smile with your eyes,
smile with your heart and your soul and your life.
~Terri Guillemets

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Two weeks after James and I married in 1963, he became very ill and had to been hospitalized. In the beginning it looked as if he might have had something that would have been life threatening or else something that could have been at least life altering, but it turned out to be neither. There was a time when they found a tumor on my thyroid that could have been malignant, but after a partial thyroidectomy it proved to be benign. There was a time when it looked like I would never have a child of my own, however nine years after we married, we were blessed with a healthy baby girl. Three years after our daughter was born she became very ill and had to be hospitalized with something that at one time would have ended her life, but at that time it didn’t. There was a time when I had to have a hysterectomy because my uterus was full of tumors, but again they proved to be benign. There was a time when my daughter became pregnant, but miscarried her one and only biological child, but I have been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. There was a time, when tumors were once again found in what remained of my thyroid, and they could have been malignant, but they weren’t. There was a time that those tumors grew so large and that surgically removing them endangered the finding and saving of my parathyroids, but the surgeon was able to locate 3 of the 4 and so the health issues that would have ensued from their loss didn’t materialize. There was a time when I had a stroke that could have left me crippled physically and/or mentally or worse yet it could have taken my life, but it didn’t. There was a time when my grandson suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted individual and eventually the child had to be hospitalized for 5 months to save his life and shore up his wholeness. He suffers still with PTSD and other issues as a result, but today my daughter sent a photo in which he was having fun and smiling for the first time in nearly two years. So why did all that make me cry on the way home from my sister’s this afternoon? Was it because of sadness and despair over misfortunes and trials? Before I answer that let me say that not only have I committed my fair share of trespasses against the Lord and his commandments, but when I was 18, my father died suddenly, and afterwards I turned my back on the Lord for nearly two decades and railed against Him regularly for allowing my beloved father to be taken from me. So the tears flowed not out of grief but because God has blessed me so many times despite my human frailties and transgressions that I was once again humbled, reduced to tears of joy and gratitude, and made to ponder why on earth after my egregious shortcomings, He would love me enough to bless me over and over again with His amazing grace. The answer is simple: because though I once was so lost, I was and am His beloved child and I asked! So if someone were ever looking for a person who didn’t believe in miracles or in the power of prayer or in Jesus, as the Messiah, or in God’s forgiveness, faithfulness, or His loving goodness, I would NOT be the person they were seeking. But if they were wanting to know more about the Lord, I would tell them to “knock and the door would be opened.” So what do ya think? Am I smiling along with my beautiful grandson now? Oh you betcha I am, yes, yes, and yes!!!

**Image via Pinterest; special effects done by Natalie on iPiccy

1349. Before the seed there comes the thought(promise) of bloom. ~Adapted line by E. B. White 

I can hear, underground,
that sucking and sobbing,
In my veins, in my bones I feel it,–
The small water seeping upward,
The tight grains parting at last.
When sprouts break out,
Slippery as fish,
I quail, lean to beginnings, sheath-wet. ~
Theodore Roethke

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The dictionary defines a promise as: 1.) a declaration that something will or will not be done or given and 2.) an express assurance on which expectation is to be based. Therefore, it seems to me that seeds declare and express assurance of what the Lord has done and given, and as such is a promise of what we as His children can expect. For the mention of seeds and their promise is made on the third day of the Genesis story where we can see that plants and trees are manifestations of a sacred and prescribed “seed force.” The roots of this ordained and holy “seed force” reach down into the darkness of the earth’s “concealed depths,” and therein they are sustained by water. That’s why in the Celtic tradition the moisture in earth’s soil is a “symbol of the waters of God that enfold and infuse all things.” Not only that but as J. Philip Newell says, “everything that was born in the great matrix of life is sustained by roots that reach into the deep mystery of God’s life.” In so doing we mortals can see God’s goodness, deeper than any evil, at the inception of Creation and in the heart of all life.

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from my hand into the wind
one clings
as if to say there is in me
something yet to be
~Jeanne Emrich

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Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring. ~William Alexander

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And the sower going forth to sow sets foot into time to come…Like a tree, he has given roots to the earth, and stands free. ~Wendell Berry

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. ~Genesis 1:11-12  ✝

**All photos of seeds and seed pods taken by Natalie; all collages created 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

1276. I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, … I will go to the bank by the wood… ~Walt Whitman

I feel the need to “coddiwomple!”
To be out where autumn’s breath fills my lungs,
where the presence of the Lord is afoot,
where the miracles of nature abound,
where wonder and awe feed my soul,
where I find rhythmic harmony and peace,
where I see visible signs of God’s goodness,
where the simple pleasures of life bring me joy,
where the child I once was rises to the top,
where she laughs and my heart sings
be it in woods, fields, or gardens,
where I feel alive and well!
Indeed it is time to
coddiwomple
again!

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To wonder, to know,
To explore, always asking:
What am I?
Who am I?
What will become of me?
Of my knowledge?

Am I squandered on the world?
Cheapening existence through vanity?
How long before I am fit to say, I know this!
Rather than, I think this.

That in itself questions self,
Whether our thought and mind is
Our own knowledge and assurance.
At what point in time do we stop marching?

Pencil upon paper, sight upon colour and light.
A fixation upon what we comprehend
And that, which is incomprehensible.
Are we gambling with the gifts we are given?

Are they gifts?
The ability to question choice, life, the air we breathe;
The sun, the moon, clouds, stars, the earth, wind, rain, height.
Random, our teachers abandon us,
Fending for all we are on our own
‘Tis a lonely path humans follow, trying to fill the void
~Edited excerpt of a poem,
To Wonder, by Lily

“Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.” ~Excerpt from Judges 18:6  ✝

**Text above images by Natalie. Images found on  Pinterest; collage by Natalie; backgrounds and special effects via iPiccy

1254. The Holy Spirit in every single soul “prays in us with unspeakable groanings.” ~Excerpted from a quote by Edith Stein

Holy Spirit, you are welcome here! Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere!
May you have a truly blessed Sabbath and feel the touch of Christ’s presence!

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Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord
I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord
CHORUS
Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
~Excerpted lyrics written by
Cyril Garrett Neville, Gaynielle H. Neville,
Hack Bartholomew, Norman Caesar

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. ~John 14:26  ✝

**Image via Pinterest