597. The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. ~Melody Beattie

A fresh start.
A new chapter of life waiting to be written.
New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved.
Answers to be discovered and then lived
in a transformative year of delight and self-discovery.
~Sarah Ban Breathnach

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Recipe for a Happy New Year ~Anonymous

Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work, hope, fidelity, kindness, rest, and prayer. Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.

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I Am the New Year. . .Bible Illustrator

I am the new year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.

I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months.

All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination.

All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.

All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have—these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.

I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to the Lord who said, “…Behold, I make all things new.” ~Revelation 21:3   ✝

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Happy New Year everybody!  May yours be abundantly blessed!  Love, Natalie

** Images via Pinterest

315. Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

A garden spot may be a noisy place
Where droning bees
Seek honey, spiders weave their silver lace
Upon the trees,
And little birds sing songs the livelong day.

Or it may be so silent that it seems
The flowers sleep,
And shy, mysterious virgin dreams
Their vigil keep,
And God communes with earth the livelong day.
~Pringle Barret

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Spring, ever so splendid springtime!  God’s glory colors the arms of barren trees, the unfolding petals of flowers, and the fanciful wings of every creature in flight.  Rebirth and renewal explode from soil seemingly laid waste by icy months of freezing temperatures, and the sunshine charges the air with invigorating currents.  The hum of the bees and the song of the birds fill ears with melodies, sweet and grand, while spiders do indeed weave sticky lairs of “silver lace.”  Then there are those splendiferous moments at dawn and twilight when a tranquil hush pervades the space between heaven and earth, and in the silence sacred whispers cross the thresholds of listening ears.

Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.  ~Song of Songs  2:8   ✝

May your salvation, Jesus, be with us always!

308. All was silent as before – all silent save the dripping rain. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

One by one great drops are falling
Doubtful and slow,
Down the pane they are crookedly crawling,
And the wind breathes low…
~Excerpt from a poem by James Russell Lowell

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Rain!  Deliciously glorious rain finally came for the first time in many months from the grayness of a late winter’s day, and the drought-ridden soil soaked it up like a sponge.  Thankfully this rain was not the child of violent clashes of hot and cold air which can, this time of year, spawn rushing winds or tornados charged with electricity and loud claps of thunder.  Instead it tapped softly on rooftops and windows beating out long-awaited, haunting harmonies accompanied only by occasional rolls of muffled thunder and flashes of distant lightning.  After the parched ground had drunk in enough, puddles began to form, and from them rain’s captivating smell rose to bless my nose.  Scientists may say the scent in rain is petrichor, which is an oil produced by plants, absorbed by rocks and soil, and then later released into the air during rainfall, but I personally think it’s the alluring scent of the Holy One, Yahweh Himself.

Oh, how I’ve missed the rain!  I adore it; I always have!  And now that I live in a place where rain can be absent for long periods of time, my spirit experiences an aching hunger when it’s gone.  So I envy those who live in areas where it rains regularly.  There’s just something very comforting and inviting about the sound of rain, the sight of it, the feel of it, and the unmistakable fragrance of it.  It  has a way of reassuring me that “God’s in His heaven and all’s right with the world,” and if rainy days bless my soul in such a way, I can’t help but believe the earth feels the same sweet joy.

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In time of silver rain
The earth puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads

Of Life,
Of Life,
Of Life!

In time of silver rain
The butterflies lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth new leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,

In time of silver rain
When spring
And life
Are new.
~Poem by Langston Hughes

As the rain and 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 55:9-11   ✝

251. More than anything, I must have flowers, always, and always. ~Claude Monet

When we look deeply into the heart of a flower,
we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth,
and everything else in the cosmos in it.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

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 Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.  ~Claude Monet

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 The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.  ~Claude Monet

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I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.  ~Claude Monet

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Like Monet, I must always, always have flowers, and I’ve discovered that cut flowers do little to satisfy that hunger.  I need to have flowers that, as in nature, are alive and growing, and to that end my greenhouse is a godsend.  From my chair in our family room I have a clear shot at the back shelf through the window in its door, and so that space is reserved during the winter months for potted flowers that aren’t suited to our Texas climate except as cool weather annuals.  Also like Monet, I must have color, lots and lots of color, and so the more bright and colorful the flowers are the better.  And again, like Monet I wanted to become a painter, but that’s where the likeness between us ends.  I may have found a way to have flowers and color but not the talent to translate that beauty onto a canvas.  However, the Lord in His gracious goodness did not let it end there.  During my years as a teacher I was asked at one time to sponsor the high school’s yearbook.  During that 5 year period I learned from the book’s professional publisher how to take photos,  how to edit and crop them, and how to lay them out on a page in an eye-appealing manner.  Then after I retired, with that training still in place, I discovered the amazing technology of digital photography, and voila, who’s to say an artist of sorts wasn’t born.

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.  Psalm 92:4   ✝

 

 

248. I look back with gladness to the day when I found the path to the land of heart’s desire… ~Mrs. George Cran

Earth, thou great footstool of our God,
who reigns on high;
thou fruitful source of all our
raiment, life, and food;
our house, our parent, our nurse,
and our teacher.
~Edited and adapted excerpt from Isaac Watts

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What’s that whisper in the wind?  Do you hear it?  Listen, there it is again!  Oh, I know.  It’s that ancient and seductive call that tempts the gardener to come and play in the dirt?  And it doesn’t take much bidding before this one can do naught but hearken to the bewitching pleas.

For days now I’ve heard the “call” because even though winter is still quite young,  January has obliged the “voice” by bringing some warmer days.  So several days ago I began clearing my flower beds of autumn’s dead, leafy debris, cutting off seed heads to be scattered elsewhere, and pruning weak, leggy growth off shrubs and roses.  Working close to the soil let me, as usual, hear earth’s heartbeat, and that sweet sound in turn spread a soothing balm over the spiritual doldrums.

Ironically, however, it occurred to me as I worked today that I was blessing the warmth of the same sun that only a few months ago I’d been cursing for its relentless waves of miserable heat.  That brought me face to face afresh with the truth that too much of anything spoils even the very best of things, that there is a purpose, if not understanding, in all things, and that gratitude, when in comfort or lack, is the only appropriate response to a day’s gifts.  So, you see, it was more than an ordinary call or faint heartbeat that I’d heard; I’d encountered the Teacher and He, leading me in and out of flesh and spirit, had shown me, again, wisdom growing in the garden’s “soil.”

…and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil.  ~Deuteronomy 30:9a  ✝

222. Green thoughts emerge from some deep source of stillness which the very fact of winter has released. ~Michael Osler

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun;
I was called from the darkness by the song of the earth,
I joined in the singing and she gave me birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you on, wherever you may be,
I will lead you all in the Dance, said he!

The moon in her phases and the tides of the sea,
the movement of the Earth, and the seasons that will be
Are rhythm for the dancing and a promise through the years–
The Dance goes on through joy and tears.
~Excerpts from the Lord of the Dance, traditional

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The Winter Solstice that arrives tomorrow is an annual event shrouded in ancient lore.  The words which mean “sun set still in winter” are derived from the Latin.  For ages the Winter Solstice was seen as a special and critical moment in the cycle of a year.  From neolithic times the physical remains at New Grange and Stonehenge in the British Isles have attested to this because their primary axes seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line framing the winter solstice at sunrise in New Grange and at sunset in Stonehenge.  Given that these earliest communities were not assured of living through the winter, the time of the solstice had to be marked because it was of maximum importance for which preparations had to be made during the previous nine months.  Today, for many, the shortest day of the year simply means that winter has arrived and for the next six months there will be a bit more daylight each day.  For those who follow Christ through His teachings, the solstice opens the doors on celebrations honoring His, the Messiah’s birth.  Christ is our Lord of the Dance, and He has come that all may join Him in the dance of life by accepting His offer of salvation.  “Sing we now of Christmas!”

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  ~Mark 1:1  ✝

9. O Autumn…pass not, but sit…and tune thy jolly voice…and all the daughters of the year shall dance! ~William Blake

In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year,
bringing us the fruition of months of thought, and care, and toil.
~Rose G. Kingsley, British Gardener and Writer

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Now that the year has grown long in the tooth, the migratory birds have moved on to warmer lands.  But the birds who overwinter here are still very visible and busy.  However, on the chillier days they, like me, “remain perched” early in the morning and later when the sun is well over the rooftops.  Nevertheless, in spite of our periodic and combined lethargy, we still manage to be out and working during the warmer parts of the day.  The “common feast for all” the garden spreads may be nearly gone and the bird’s tired wings along with my tired feet may drag somewhat, but autumn’s remaining golden glory continues to quicken our spirits.  In fact even after winter ravages the land, we, man and beast alike, who live close to the soil will venture out on the occasional warm day to search with hungry eyes for any signs of what we know lies waiting to emerge from beneath the surface of things.

Autumn’s song is indeed “a rich and lusty melody.”  It induces a healthy renewal in bodies wilted by summer’s long siege of torrid heat, and it creates a restful peacefulness that washes away the “fret and fever of life.”  “It’s jolly voice” sings a comforting song of promise that speaks of God’s circadian rhythms of life–the rhythm of changing seasons, busyness followed by stillness, “youth’s energy followed by age’s measured pace.”

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. . .  ~Ecclesiastes 3:1   ✝