1399. Glory be…

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to God and thank you Jesus!!! We just got back from the doctor’s office. The pathology report showed that he had gotten it all and that it had NOT spread to the fatty layer where it could and would spread. James and I have been blessed with so many miracles in our lives, and we are both so very thankful for the Lord’s abiding grace, mercies, and faithfulness. Next month I will be 75 and James will be 82 and we have spent 54 of those years together. I am so grateful, Lord, that it is not over yet for the two of us you joined together so long ago. Now for some quiet praise, chocolate, and tears of joy. Before I sign off though, I want to thank all of you for the heartfelt comments and prayers. May all of you be so very blessed as well! Love and hugs, Natalie

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1387. In the early Celtic churches, earth, sea, and sky were, rather than enclosed sanctuaries, the temple of God. The high-standing crosses were gathering places. ~J. Philip Newell

The world is holy.
We are holy. All life is holy.
Daily prayers are delivered on the lips
of breaking waves, the whisperings
of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.
-Terry Tempest Williams

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The church is not a building, but a body of believers with a specific nature and purpose. These biblical roles or ministries of the church are foundational to it. Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered. It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations, but about expressing our love by worshiping our Creator. We are to praise and glorify God in worship. As such, every Christian needs to be part of regular fellowship and worship. Edification is also a role of the church. It involves edifying believers, but also nurturing, building up or helping believers to mature in Christ.

Evangelism is also a key role of the church. This means reaching out to a lost world with the Good News about Jesus. Since people often have questions or doubts about Christ and Christianity, knowing the truth and being able to defend it is also part of the role of the church. But beyond evangelism in the sense of reaching out with the gospel, the church must also express compassion and mercy tangibly by helping others. In following Christ’s example to love others, the church, too, must seek to make a real difference in the world while not neglecting to share the message of Christ. If a church fails to fulfill any of these key roles – worship, edification, evangelism – then the church is not functioning as God intends. Granted, there are times when churches face challenges and struggles to one degree or another, but a healthy church seeks to overcome such challenges in a way that honors God and His intentions for His church. (This paragraph and the one above it are excerpted from an article by Paul Velarde_)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:19-20  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

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

1342. Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space. ~Michael Strassfeld

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

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kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

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~Mindful, a poem
by Mary Oliver

What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways. ~Job 22:28  ✝

**Image via Pixabay; special effects done by me on Pixabay

1233. Of all God’s gifts to the sighted man, color is the holiest, the most divine… ~John Ruskin

There are not more than five primary colors,
yet in combination they produce
more hues than can ever been seen.
~Paul Klee

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We live, breath, and move on holy ground, and life’s experiences come to us by means of our God-given senses. Nature and its colors don’t just surround us like the walls of a house or a building; they move into our space and through our senses touching us in very discernible and meaningful ways.

The laws of color are unutterably beautiful
because they are not accidental.
~Vincent Van Gogh

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Terry T. Williams said that “All life is holy and daily prayers are delivered on the lips of (blue) breaking waves, the whispering of (green) grasses, and the shimmering of (autumn) leaves. I believe these prayers of which he spoke are real and meant to bring us into intimacy with the Lord, the singular and ancient author of the excellences we’ve been given like these beautiful rain lilies.

All the other colors are just colors,
but purple seems to have a soul?
When you look at it,
it’s looking back at you.
~Uniek Swain

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Nothing has life apart from God, and if we want to look for and find Him, we must start where He dwells and seek what He values. Colors, like these of the passionflower, as well as angelic hosts, miracles, and God’s grace, are the unmistakably visible and tangible elements emitted by Creation’s many sacred voices.

…for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. ~Romans 11:29  ✝

**All images taken by me in my yard but not all at the same time

1205. Do not say, ‘It is morning,’ and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name. ~Rabindranath Tagore

This time of the year is so terribly hot that I find myself grumbling morning, noon, and evening about the relentless, scorching rays of the sun, the same sun that in winter is quite a welcome presence! So here’s to the beautiful sun, bearer of light and life, and the sunflower that mimics its golden glory.

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Beautiful Sun! with thy golden rays,
To God, the wise Creator, be all praise;
For thou nourisheth all the creation,
Wherever there is found to be animation.

Without thy heat we could not live,
Then praise to God we ought to give;
For thou makest the fruits and provisions to grow,
To nourish all creatures on earth below.

Thou makest the birds to sing on the tree,
Also by meadow, mountain, and lea;
And the lark high poised up in air,
Caroling its little song with its heart free from care.

While the bee from flower to flower does roam
To gather honey, and carry it home;
While it hums its little song in the beautiful sunshine,
And seemingly to thank the Creator divine —

For the honey it hath gathered during the day,
In the merry growing months of the year
When the flowers are in full bloom,
Also the sweet honeysuckle and the broom.

How beautiful thy appearance while setting in the west,
Whilst encircled with red and azure, ’tis then thou look’st best!
Then let us all thank God for thy golden light
In our prayers every morning and night!
~Edited poem by Max Plowman

…“May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield…” ~Excerpted lines from Deuteronomy 33:13-14  ✝

**Photo taken by me in my yard

1165. Did you hear it, fluting and whistling a shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall knifing down the black ledges. ~Excerpt from the poem, The Swan, by Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting all night on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
a perfect commotion of silk and linen
as it leaned into the bondage of its wings…
~Another excerpt from the poem, The Swan,
by Mary Oliver

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Whistling Swans
Do you bow your head when you pray or
do you look up into that blue space?
Take your choice, prayers fly from all directions.
And don’t worry about what language you use,
God no doubt understands them all.
Even when the swans are flying north
and making such a ruckus of noise,
God is surely listening and understanding.
Rumi said, There is no proof of the soul.
But isn’t the return of spring and how
it springs up in our hearts a pretty good hint?
Yes, I know, God’s silence never breaks,
but is that really a problem?
There are thousands of voices, after all.
And furthermore, don’t you imagine
(I just suggest it) that the swans know about
as much as we do about the whole business?
So listen to them and watch them, singing as they fly.
Take from it what you can.
Last night the rain spoke to me slowly,
saying, what joy to come falling out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again in a new way on the earth!
~Mary Oliver

Because You(God) are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. ~Psalm 63:7 ✝

**Singing swan images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie