570. It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself. ~Charles Dickens

You’re never too old to be a child at Christmas.
Think back to your own childhood memories of Christmas –
not the gifts and the tinsel, but the joy and wonder
of a time when everything seemed so new
and nothing was impossible.
~William Saroyan, (1908-1981),
Armenian-American dramatist and writer

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Hey, it’s snowing! At least on my blog, little snowflakes are softly cascading. Okay, I’ll admit it; I’m delighted about that and gleefully squealed like a child when the WP support lady told me how to make it happen. And what’s more, if Charles Dickens and William Saroyan think it’s okay to be a child at Christmas, who am I to lack confidence in that stance? I realize Christmas is weeks away, but the snow on my blog was enough to jump start my enthusiasm about it. Christmas always takes me back to the time when I saw the world through the eyes of a child. That’s because my childhood was magical, not perfect nor without hurts, but magical nonetheless. It was the result of a Divinely engineered coming together of extraordinary people in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time. I say that with a humble heart because I know it was and is a privilege not afforded all people. My childhood was so out of the ordinary in fact that I can recall the exact moment in time it came to an end. It was in the cessation of a beating heart that the reality of it shattered like the pieces of a breaking mirror. Not only was the magic and innocence of it lost forever at that moment, but the devastation left me fragmented and it severed my hold on the handle of anything that nurtured my faith. Then close on the heels of that life-altering experience, I was swept away into the uncharted waters of young womanhood and the inevitable trials that accompany aging and marriage. Those events added to the continuing and inconsolable sorrow of my father’s death left me turning a deaf ear to the Lord’s “still, small voice” as well as a blind eye to His abiding presence in my world. After nearly a decade of watching me, lost and brokenhearted, wander deeper into the “wilderness,” He sent an angel of mercy into my world. Ironically the Divine messenger was a child, my baby girl, who would and did touch my heart in a way no other mortal had been able to. In her smile, in the twinkle of her eyes, and in the beauty of her heart, a heart more loving and gentle than any I’ve ever known, I found my way, step by step, back into the Lord’s keeping. Oh come let us adore the Christ who finds a way to speak to the child in us all!

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. ~Romans 8:17   ✝

**The photo is a composite of my daughter from the age of 8 months to 18 years.

561. If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. ~Rabbi Harold Kushner

Above me and below me
Hovers the beautiful.
I am surrounded by it.
I am immersed in it.
~Native American Saying

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I thank God for the ways of Creation–
For eyes to see Creation’s beauty,
For ears to hear Creation’s sounds,
For a tongue to taste Creation’s savory delights,
For a nose to smell Creation’s sweet aromas,
For arms to embrace others with a loving touch,
For a heart to understand the ways of the Lord,
For words to praise the triune God, Maker of heaven and earth.
~Edited and adapted from a Native American prayer

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. ~Psalm 69:30   ✝

** Image via Pinterest

560. Every moment of light and dark is a miracle. ~Walt Whitman

When you rise in the morning
give thanks for the light,
for your life,
for your strength.
Give thanks for your food
and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks,
the fault lies in yourself.
~Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee

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Under the sun’s flares on a fairly warm, late November day, fierce winds yielded at last to gentle breezes. And then at day’s end, the setting sun generated dazzling drama in the west while moonrise began eastward with a waxing crescent moon. Up and up and up it ascended through the branches of the willow until its light shined over the tree’s top as night dropped its dark shade. Changing slowly from the sinuous sliver of a crescent moon like this one to the rounded fullness of a sphere, the great white orb of the heavens has been an endless source of wonder, charming and bewitching mortals throughout the ages as well as affecting tides, fishing activities, and the planting of crops. Its varying phases and mystical beauty have also inspired legends, myths, and romance by those who’ve lived below and gazed up at its recurrent and divine evanescence. But then any kind of light–sunlight, moonlight, candlelight, firelight, spiritual light–has always fascinated and drawn humanity into its mystery. Perhaps it’s because humans as well as and earth’s creatures sense sanctity within it. I know I do, and I’ve always wondered if wolves howl at the moon as an act of thanksgiving for their Creator or at least as a way of loving Him which makes me think that howling at the moon is not such a bad idea.

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:5   ✝

** Image via Pinterest

515. If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. ~Albert Einstein

Child of the pure, unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy tale.
~Lewis Carroll

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The Toadstool

THERE ‘s a thing that grows by the fainting flower,
And springs in the shade of the lady’s bower;
The lily shrinks, and the rose turns pale,
When they feel its breath in the summer gale,
And the tulip curls its leaves in pride,
And the blue-eyed violet starts aside;
But the lily may flaunt, and the tulip stare,
For what does the honest toadstool care?
She does not glow in a painted vest,
And she never blooms on the maiden’s breast;
But she comes, as the saintly sisters do,
In a modest suit of a Quaker hue.
And, when the stars in the evening skies
Are weeping dew from their gentle eyes,
The toad comes out from his hermit cell,
The tale of his faithful love to tell.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

They send forth their children as a flock: their little ones dance about. ~Job 21:11   ✝

**Today is my daughter’s birthday, and although she’s a grown woman with children of her own, I always loved reading her fairy tales when she was young.

395. A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the lover of the gift. ~Thomas à Kempis

God waits to win back his own flowers
as gifts from man’s hands.
~Rabindranath Tagore

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It was late summer when she, my neighbor down the street, called to ask if I wanted a Crinum Lily. She said she had planted one in her yard but that it was in too much shade to bloom. Up front let me just tell you that only because I’d wanted a pink Crinum for years and had not been able to acquire one that I would have even considered saying yes at that time of year, trudge on down to her house on foot with shovel in tow, and dig the thing up out of heavy clay soil under the scorching heat of the Texas sun. However after having been captivated by this lily years before, I endured the blistering heat, dug the bulb up, and brought it back down to my garden. And as soon as I recovered from my near heat stroke, I cut all the long, heat-beleaguered strappy foliage down to almost nothing, found a spot in my garden where I thought it would thrive, and put it in the ground. Soon my prized acquisition began to show new growth, and I was thrilled. Then in early December we had one of the worst ice storms I’ve ever seen here and for days the frozen remains blanketed the ground. During that time I kept hoping against hope that when I could get out to check on it, the new “baby” would have survived the ice-bound onslaught. But sadly what I found days later was foliage that had turned to brown mush. Since it had been so newly planted before the early, brute force of the icy assault, I gave up hope that it would make a come back. But sure enough after the start of the new year, it did, and again I was thrilled. Then in early March we had the hardest, late freeze on record, and again in the aftermath I found nothing but a stub of brown mush where my hope had so recently be restored. Surely I thought to myself, it won’t make it back this time, but as spring warmed the land, I started seeing new growth where twice my hope had been dashed, and I was thrilled. At long last June came, and I had lots of lovely green foliage. As late as it was, however, I put away hope for flowers this time around thinking that it had suffered too much, too soon to bloom. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I went out two days ago to find a tall stalk with buds on it had shot up almost overnight. Despite recent rains, I have been able, however, to capture the beauty of that which had previously been only a memory of something incredibly lovely I’d stumbled upon long ago in another’s garden. Isn’t it amazingly loving how without asking the Lord often grants us a thing of our heart’s desire out of the blue! I am thrilled. I am blessed. I am grateful.

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A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great. ~Proverbs 18:16  ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

369. I never had any other desire so strong, and so like covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large garden, with very moderate conveniences joined to them, and there dedicate the remainder of my life only to the culture of them and the study of nature. ~Abraham Cowley

Riotous Garden

I love my old riotous garden,
Its unconcern gladdens the heart;
No method whate’er in its beauty,
For nature supreme reigns in art.

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Each path leads to some spot enchanting,
Full fragrant with prodigal bloom,
Where robins, gay, warble approval,
In carols dispersing all gloom.

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To entertain angels and fairies
Seems just the correct thing to do,
They’re always so loving and gentle,
With heart blessed by charity true.

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Here beautiful thoughts without pattern,
Where God sheds His blessings divine,
Form poems from nebulous nothings
In this riotous garden of mine.
~Julie Caroline O’Hara

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Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence. ~Psalm 21:6  ✝

Thank you, Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!

341. So pure, so still the starry heaven, so hushed the brooding air, I could hear the sweep of an angel’s wings… ~Edna Dean Proctor

Our Lord has written
the promise of resurrection,
not in books alone,
but in every leaf in springtime.
~Martin Luther

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Creation is a perpetual outpouring of God’s creative and loving selfhood. The sacred isn’t merely above us but forever within the entire body of Creation. The holy sound of God resonates in everything. The earth gives us reason to feel His gracious hand upon us while the forces of heaven sustain us. These realities are meant to stir in humanity a sense of belonging and in turn spark a desire to seek the Lord, but should they not, finding God in Christ is something even the blind can do. Our Creator sent us His son over 2,000 years ago, and He came to be our memory and to remind us of who we are and to whom we belong. Jesus is a revelation of our loving Father and His Kingdom’s intention. Christ offers salvation to the children of the Light who are subjected to temptation by malevolent forces, and He is a leader who directs God’s children into righteous rhythms of life, into a willingness to serve others, and into the dance of life–a dance in which the whole universe partners.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.  ~Ephesians 1:17  ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!

306. What is there beyond knowing that keeps calling to me? ~Mary Oliver

Go to your bosom:
Knock there,
and ask your heart
what it doth know?
~William Shakespeare

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We run; we stumble; we fall; we get up; and somehow we find the stamina to move on again.  That same scenario plays over and over again in our lives; so what is it that get us back up on our feet willing to do it all over again?

Is it the hope of wealth or at least sufficiently comfortable numbers in our checkbooks and bank accounts to buy whatever we need and/or want?

Is it the hope of owning a nice car, having a roof over our head, finding food in the pantry, or clothes to put on our backs?

Is it being able to travel wherever and whenever we want?

Is it the hope that scientific theories will one day answer the questions that disturb us?

Or it is instead because we seem to know somehow that a divine power much bigger and smarter has set all this in motion for a reason and that He cheers us on in the face of troubling realities and difficulties?

And isn’t it also because His imploring little voice within us encourages us to finish the race set before us because that is what we are really here for?

At some point in time, do we not begin to perceive divine threads in the fabric of life?

Do not these threads in the tapestry gather together enough gladness and joy so we that can find the strength and courage to face trials, disappointments, and defeats?

Isn’t it the perception of these divine threads that keeps us willing to run again, stumble again, to fall again, to get up again, and to move on again even when we are hurting or become disheartened or grow weary?

Do we not come to realize that life is not just an end in itself but instead a preparation for something more, even if the something more is not clearly defined?  And as strange as it may seem, after a while in our heart of hearts do we not become aware of a sense of awe of and growing gratitude for the very “race” that often torments us?

Life just has to be worth more than material gain, more than temporal pleasures, more than the noisy, senseless endurance of the perverse, violent, and/or mundane.  In moments of utter silence and stillness in an emptied mind we can, can’t we, hear that reassuring little voice that calls to us urging us on because all this isn’t some pointless game, a worthless hour upon a harsh stage, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  And does not what our heart “doth know” tell us something of a loving Creator’s sacred purpose.  Don’t we do it because as Marianne Williamson says, “We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.”

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.  ~Exodus 9:16   ✝

**Images via Pinterest

69. Only from the heart can you touch the sky. ~Rumi

It is a glorious privilege
to live, to know, to act, to listen, to behold, to love.
To look up at the blue summer sky;
to see the sun sink slowly beyond the line of the horizon;
to watch the worlds come twinkling into view,
first one by one, and the myriads that no man can count,
and lo! the universe is white with them;
and you and I are here.
~Marco Morrow

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It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them.  ~Proverbs 25:2   ✝