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

1385. The whole fabric of Creation is woven through the thread of God’s light. ~J. Philip Newell

How does one separate
the mystery of God
from the mystery of Creation?
Is the sanctuary of a church
more holy than the sanctuary
of earth, sea, and sky?

One of my fellow bloggers recently posted an article about his faith and churches, and as I read the comments of others about what he said, I was disturbed to see how many had negative feelings like I once did about churches. In my twenties I left the church, but I eventually came to realize it was not God nor a church per se that had let me down and hurt me. For God had not failed to be God nor had Jesus failed to be my Savior; it was the flaws and frailties of humanity that had caused my disillusionment. So I’m going to start a three-part series tomorrow about my take on the church and why I worship in one as often as I can. I pray you will read what I have to say even if you have a low regard for churches and then mull over the points I make. I know I am just another flawed human being who struggles like everyone else to make some kind of sense about this thing called life but now I’m also one who no longer questions God nor His truths. There are those who say that Jesus is a myth or a sort of “urban” legend, but for two thousand years no one has been able to prove that He wasn’t exactly who He said He was and is. I was just a proverbial lost sheep and He pursued me for decades until at last I became silent enough to hear His call and now know Him to be the way, the truth, and the life that will lead me home. And it is my most fervent prayer that you who read my thoughts over the next 3 days will feel a close connection to God and Jesus as well. You are on their radar; I know that for certain.

*Crepuscular rays (also known as sunbeams, sun rays, angel light, or God rays) are atmospheric optics that appear to radiate from a point in the sky…

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. ~Psalm 19:1-2  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage created by Natalie

1355. I just kept thinking, if I don’t do something, who will? ~Matthew West

I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but I can do something.
And I will not let what I cannot 
do
interfere with what I can do.
~Edward Everett Hale

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I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
~Excerpted lines from a song
by Matthew West

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While in the car today, I heard this song again and thought to myself how relevant it was and still is in these troubling times. Going to church to worship and praise God once or twice a week is not nearly enough to fulfill our purpose and obligation to the loving God we worship. We have been given that we might give, and we are called on to be His church whenever and wherever we are. In so doing we become the light and hope of a fallen and hurting world. Anybody with an eye to see and an ear to hear knows that all around each and every one of us are people who are suffering, people who are poor, people who are hungry, people who are thirsty, people who are abused, people who are broken. people who need love and encouragement and on and on the list goes. And for all of them far more has to be done than the preaching of a sermon. That’s why we, each one of us, have to let our actions be a message and/or an act of merciful grace to and for others. We must let God use the gifts and talents He gave us to bless those in need. That is the true way of a miracle worker. One random act of kindness a day can change 365 lives every year. And when the right words can’t be found, just a smile and a kind word will sometimes do for they too can be the stuff of miracles. And if you are in need or feeling down, go be a blessing to someone else and you’ll find that the blessing, like a boom-a-rang, comes right back to you. Smiles and kindness costs the giver nothing but their impact is beyond measure, and like a pebble thrown in a pond they reach out in ever-widening circles!

You(God) enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. ~Psalm 18:36 ✝

**All images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

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

1188. Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. ~Chief Seattle

What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
~Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

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Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.
~A Ute Prayer

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Oh Lord, whose voice I hear in the winds
and whose breath I feel moving in and out of me,
the very breath that gives life to me and all living things.
I come before you, as one of your children to ask that
You continue to reveal Yourself through Creation’s beauty.
May my hands always respect the things you’ve created;
May my ears be ever sharp to hear your voice; and
May I be wise enough to perceive the lessons
hidden in all things made of Your hands.
~My prayer based on one by
Chief Yellow Lark of the Lakota Sioux

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. ~Job 33:4  ✝

**Three images via Pinterest; the bottom picture of the granite boulders taken by me on what were once First Nation’s lands at Medicine Park, Oklahoma

1184. I used to visit and revisit it(his garden) a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. ~Edited excerpt by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Now summer is in flower and nature’s hum
Is never silent round her sultry bloom
Insects as small as dust are never done…
~Excerpt from a poem by John Clare

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Natalie, oh Nstalie, what can you say
About how it is your garden thrives?
Is it a labor of love that drives you
To keep these pretty flowers alive?

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Yes ‘tis so for despite the torrid heat
And in the face of pesky insect mobs
I daily venture out with tools in hand
To wage war against the weedy hordes.

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 But in return as I mosey back to go inside
I feel blessed to be able to work the soil
Alone  in quiet, solitude on flowery paths
Where nothing’s heard but muted toils.

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In the end my back is bent, my brow wet,
And my stamina all but entirely spent,
But ’tis when the grueling work is done,
That I rest in satisfied accomplishment.

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. ~Excerpt from Deuteronomy 2:7  ✝

**All photos taken by me in my yard; collages by me

1177. The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just to the body, but the soul. ~Alfred Austin

I look back with gladness to the day when I found the path to the land of heart’s desire, and thank fate ceaselessly with a loud voice that it did not permit town to sap all the years away while the heart was turning to wind-voices and flower-faces and the hands of kindly earth. ~Mrs. George Cran

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There are times when I cannot believe I am separate from this earth, when I could swear the wind blows through me as it does the woven needles of the pine tree by the creek, when I feel my feet planted deep in the earth with the roots of trees and wildflowers, drawing essence. ~Cathy Johnson

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The love of dirt is among the earliest of passions, as it is the latest.  Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts.  So long as we are dirty, we are pure.  Fondness for the ground comes back to a man after he has run the round of pleasure and business, eaten dirt, and sown wild oats, drifted about the world, and taken the wind of all its moods.  The love of digging in the ground (or of looking on while he pays another to dig) is as sure to come back to him, as he is sure, at last, to go under the ground, and stay there. ~Charles Dudley Warner

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Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. ~Genesis 2:8-9  ✝

**All images but one found on Pinterest; all collages created by Natalie