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

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

1105. Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.  ~Floyd W. Tomkins

Once more to new creation
Awake,
 and death gainsay,
For death is swallowed up of life,
And Christ is risen today!
~George Newell Lovejoy

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And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him.  For He departed, and behold, He is here. ~St Augustine

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die… ~John 11:25  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1079. I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. If not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. ~Gillian Anderson

February 26th is not a holiday nor necessarily a particularly important day for that matter, but it is a significant day for me. A year ago today I was in surgery getting my left knee replaced which has been a huge success and blessing for me. Then today after returning home from my end of the year check up on it, I noticed that again one of my early posts had been viewed making it still the most viewed and liked one to date. So I decided to repost it to commemorate blessings and favorable outcomes in general. The only thing I’ve changed about it is the photo.

46. A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage. ~William Blake
FEBRUARY 26, 2013 BY NATALIESCARBERRY

When father takes his spade to dig
then Robin comes along;
And sits upon a little twig
And sings a little song.
~Laurence Alma-Tadema

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The introductory line in the title is from Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence,” a somewhat lengthy poem consisting of a series of paradoxes in which Blake juxtaposes innocence with evil and corruption. The word augury in the title means omen or token, and the robin is the poem’s first noted “augury of innocence.”  The robin’s song, personality, and countenance are such that it’s obvious why the poet saw the act of putting one in a cage as not only an enraging violation but also as a profound perversion of holiness.  The sweet song and colorful markings of a robin make the bird a delightful harbinger of spring’s infancy and innocence.  Looking forward to its coming is one of my favorite rites in spring’s passage, and like “all heaven” I’d be incensed if the bird’s freedom were taken away and its song silenced.  Below is a legend about the robin that again ties the bird to the blameless and sacred.  Although the truthfulness of legends is questionable, I’m fascinated that somehow, somewhere, and in some way the robin was connected to the Messiah.

The Legend of the First Robin
One day, long ago, a little bird in Jerusalem saw a large crowd gathered around a man carrying a heavy wooden cross.  On the man’s head was a crown made from a thorn branch.  The thorns were long and sharp.  The little bird saw that the thorns were hurting the man.  It wanted to help Him, so it flew down and took the longest, sharpest thorn in its tiny beak.  The bird tugged and pulled until the thorn snapped from the branch.  Then a strange thing happened.  A drop of blood fell onto the bird’s breast, staining it bright red.  The stain never went away.  And so today the robin proudly wears a red-breast, because it helped a man named Jesus.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. . .”  ~Job 12:7-10   ✝

1017. Gloria in excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax.

Glory in the highest to God. And peace on earth.

Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 8.39.42 AM.pngHallelujah, the babe is born, the Messiah has come!

I wish each and every one of you the merriest of Christmases, and I pray that you have a blessed encounter with Emmanuel, the Christ. Be comforted that God is with us now and forever. Love, Natalie

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1016. For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. ~W.J. Ronald Tucker

Let us remember that He(God) has given us
the sun and the moon and the stars,
and the earth with it forests and mountains and oceans–
and all that lives and moves upon them.
He has given us all green things
and everything that blossoms and bears fruit–
and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–
and to save us from our own foolishness, from all our sins,
He came down to earth and gave us Himself.
~Sigrid Undset,
Nobel prize-winning Norwegian novelist

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The babe born in a manger in Bethlehem was no mere human.  He was the fully divine, blessed Messiah who was sent to restore the rhythm in Creation’s rhyme and to save the lost.  Tonight as we worship and celebrate when the Word became flesh, I’d like to share with all of you an excerpt from a Max Lucado book.  I pray that it touches you as it did me and that in so doing you feel the Breath of Heaven blow through your world.

MARY’S PRAYER
God. O infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child.
Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds.
Enjoy the silence of the crib…
Rest well, tiny hands.
For though you belong to a king,
you will touch no satin, own no gold.
You will grasp no pen, guide no brush.
Lie still, tiny mouth.
Lie still, mouth from which eternity will speak…
Rosebud lips–upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness
to those who believe you…
Rest, tiny feet.
Rest today so that tomorrow you might walk with power.
Rest. For millions will follow in your footsteps.
~Edited excerpt from
IT BEGAN IN A MANGER by Max Lucado

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.  ~Luke 2:11  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1014. I love at least one night by the Christmas tree to sing and feel the quiet holiness of that time that’s set apart to celebrate love, friendship, and God’s gift of the Christ child. ~Amy Grant

Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream:
a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star,
the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men
falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby,
the incarnation of perfect love.
~Lucinda Franks

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When everyone had gone
I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!

And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love’s presence near.
Love distant, love detached,

And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on.
~May Sarton

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” ~Luke 2:8-11  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest