1392. He prayeth best, who loveth best all things great and small; for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There are 100,000 or so species of insects 
native to the United States. More than 1/3 
of these have been found in Texas. 
Texas has more different kinds of 
insects than any other state. 
~From a Texas Gov’t. publication
found on the Internet

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There is simply never a shortage of “beasties” on Texas soil especially when the temperatures soar. “Things great and small,” lovable and loathsome, have been on the move in the water, in the air, and on the land. Some float, some flutter, some fly, some are fleet of foot, some feed on the earth’s grasses and some crawl, slither, or graze in them. Scripture tells us that the good Lord saw that all He made was good, but being a less than perfect mortal, I struggle with loving and seeing the good in “all things great and small.” The fact that spiders, snakes, and “skeeters” bite and can kill has always had a great deal to do with my disdain for earth’s not so charming and/or endearing creatures. However, when I became an avid gardener, I began realizing more and more the intentionality of all that God made. Working the soil helped me see the genius of the “string of life” that connects everything on earth together in a beneficial series of interdependencies. Creation, on a grander scale of course, is much like the human body–everything in it is connected and it all works together for the good of the whole. In light of that complete awareness, slowly but surely, I’m learning to be more tolerant of the earth’s less endearing creatures. Toiling under the sun in all the seasons has shown me that built into Creation’s tapestry are purpose and provisions for all that God made. That awareness, despite my difficulty in embracing all of the “beasties” who dwell here in Texas has engendered and enlarged my trust, love, and faith in the Lord’s plans and His purposes as well as an acceptance of all that He has made.

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How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. When You send your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth. -Psalm 104:24, 30  ✝

1353. Timeless thoughts of a winter’s stare; eyes gazing over a landscape bare. ~Michael A. Barron

Gray, endless shades of
Gray, winter’s somber suit of
Gray, the season’s shroud

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Beige, broad blankets of
Beige, chilling frosts turn green to
Beige, on what we trod

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Color, drear shades of
Color, muted, faint hues of
Color, in stark realm

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Winter, the woe of
Winter, shall soon be gone for
Winter, bows to spring

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As the rain and the 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 55:10-11  ✝

**All 4 haikus written by Natalie; most images from Pinterest; collages by Natalie; a few of the images in the last collage are ones I’ve taken in past winters

1300. The child I was is just one breath away from me. ~Sheniz Janmohamed, a Canadian born writer

…little faces sweetened laughter
bubbling- – dappled golden jeweled memories
scatter…
delightful as butterfly wings carry
wishful mind explosions
in brilliantly colored balloons,
a to and fro gliding spin..
.
~Excerpted lines from a poem by Sue Ashby posted on https://scvincent.com/2016/11/14/tire-swing-dreams-by-sue-ashby/

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Sunday afternoon, I was working in a flowerbed in my front yard and listening to young children laughing as they played across the street. It reminded me so much of times when my two sisters and I played as children in California. Those were halcyon days indeed, and I yet have such fond and venerated memories of those early days. Then on Monday I read Ashby’s poem above and again the revered memories came flooding back in the kind of “wishful mind explosions” of which she spoke. On top of that, when we drove by a local school yesterday, the children were out playing on the playground, another prized memory of mine, and so boom, the “brilliantly colored balloons” glided even higher still. And now today two photo images I found on Pinterest sent the lovely balloons soaring almost to the moon and back! And no, some elderly dementia has not set in (she say’s tongue in cheek); these things have just helped me touch base with my inner child, a personage with whom I frequently like to visit. In fact it was a healing mentor decades ago who told me that it was a must to not only stay in touch with our “inner child” but it’s also essential to feed and nourish that child on a regular basis! Thus in these troubling times especially, it’s of utmost importance to remember and reconnect with the childhood “joy and intense happiness” as well as the “real meaning of life” spoken about in the lines below. Like Janmohamed and me, he too seems to believe that we should always remain “just one breath away” from childhood. Why so? I believe it’s because it is the part of us closest to the sacred breath of life blown into us by Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth.

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When I look back at that freedom of childhood,
which is in a way infinite, and at all the joy
and the intense happiness, now lost,
I sometimes think that childhood is where
the real meaning of life is located,
and that we, adults, are its
servants – that that’s our purpose.
~Karl Ove Knausgaard

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! ~Psalm 107:8  ✝

**All images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie. The images of the girls swinging on the beach is a especially fond memory of mine.

1200. Every day, you get the opportunity to change your life. ~Rodolfo Costa

You are an instrument of God.
Don’t leave the instrument
sitting in its case my son. Play!
Leave no part of your instrument unexplored.
~Abraham Verghese

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I don’t normally share this “bragging” kind of information, but it’s the recognition of a goal I’d set for myself. And in achieving it, it has silenced old naysaying ghosts and proved that even an old, gray-haired lady without any particularly impressive credentials or talents can fulfill, in some way, long held hankerings. As an educator and a parent, I always encouraged my students and my daughter to explore avenues that led to dreams or desires they held. To that end, James and I afforded for our daughter, ballet lessons, karate lessons, violin lessons, swimming lessons–in general anything she came home and said she’d like to try. As it turned out her skills as a swimmer earned her 5 full collegiate scholarships. Then there were the graduate degrees she attained. Though these things are no longer her little niches in the grand scheme of things, they’ve served her well, helped develop her character and values, and left her with no “what if” regrets. For me it was different, unless my dreams served a “practical” purpose, I was denied the pursuit of them. For example, I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a dancer, I wanted to be a singer but of course all such things were not at all “practical” and certainly no one could make a living doing them according to my parents. Then when it came time for college (something that no one on either side of my family had had the privilege and opportunity to attend), mom decided that it would be great if I became a teacher even though I  didn’t want to be one. But since my father had just passed away leaving her to finish raising their 3 teenage daughters on her own and she had quashed all my other longings, what else could I do but be the dutiful daughter a girl of that era had no other choice but to be. But then came the day when the dutiful daughter retired after 31 years of teaching and chose to find ways to address those long held hungers. Now although she may not be an artist, she can take pretty darned good photos. Although she’s not a dancer, she and her hubby can scoot their boots pretty darned well around a dance floor. Although she’s not an published author, she can knock out some fair-to-middling prose now and again. And so today after starting my blog with NO followers 3 years ago, WP notified me that I hit 1000 followers. It may seem a small number to some of you, but my little previously unanswered “what if” regrets are singing Hallelujah choruses because at long last I’m playing my instrument in an attempt to serve God whose instrument I am.

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 ✝

1183. A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. ~Jackie Robinson

The purpose of life is not to be happy.
It is to be useful, to be honorable,
to be compassionate,
to have it make some difference
that 
you have lived and lived well.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest; text added by Natalie

1073. Hand in hand, with fairy grace, will we sing, and bless this place. ~William Shakespeare

Soft moss a downy pillow makes, and green leaves spread a tent,
Where Faerie fold may rest and sleep until their night is spent.
The bluebird sings a lullaby, the firefly gives a light,
The twinkling stars are candles bright, Sleep, Faeries all, Good Night.
~Elizabeth T. Dillingham

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The belief in spiritual beings is almost universal to human culture, be it an accurate understanding of such or not. As children, we often believe in imaginary spirits like faeries, elves, and leprechauns, but as we mature, we begin to sense the existence of a very real and holy Spiritual Being. We learn from Scripture that this Divine Creator can and does send angelic spirits as messengers or protectors. Since all that exists is part of a Grand Design by a benevolent Creator, one can assume then that there’s a sacred reason for imagination and belief in spiritual beings. Creative urges keep us mindful of our Creative God and of our own purposeful, creative abilities. Playfulness as well serves an ordained purpose because it teaches us how to be joyful. We are, after all, implored to be joyful daily for the Lord’s blessings and gifts, and it is through play that children begin to gain wisdom and knowledge of Yahweh’s miraculous abilities and His forgiving and provisionary nature.

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A little fairy comes at night,
Her eyes are blue, her hair is brown,
With silver spots upon her wings,
And from the moon she flutters down.
She has a little silver wand,
And when a child goes to bed
She waves her hand from right to left,
And makes a circle round its head.
And then it dreams of pleasant things,
Of fountains filled with fairy fish,
And trees that bear delicious fruit,
And bow their branches at a wish:
Of arbors filled with dainty scents
From lovely flowers that never fade;
Bright flies that glitter in the sun,
And glow-worms shining in the shade:
And talking birds with gifted tongues,
For singing songs and telling tales,
And pretty dwarfs to show the way
Through fairy hills and fairy dales.
~Excerpted lines from the poem,
Queen Mab, by Thomas Hood

For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways… ~Psalm 91:11  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

1065. Let God’s promises shine on your problems. ~Corrie Ten Boom

February is a quiet month in the garden…
But just because it looks quiet
doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.
~Edited and adapted quote from
Rosalie Muller Wright

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The dictionary defines a promise as: (1. a declaration that something will or will not be done or given, or (2. an express assurance on which expectation is to be based. Isn’t is amazing that something as tiny as seeds declare what the Lord has promised, done, and given, and what we as His children can expect from His covenants. Special mention of seeds and their guarantee is made on the 3rd day in the Scriptural Genesis story. And the plants and trees God created have never failed to produce profuse manifestations of this “seed force” which has been been emerging for millions of years and comes forth yet from earth’s vegetation. The roots of this holy “seed force” reach down into the darkness of the earth’s “concealed depths.” Therein they are sustained by water, and in the Celtic tradition the moisture in earth’s soil was seen as a “symbol of the waters of God that enfolded and infused all things.” God’s goodness, which is deeper than any evil, can be seen then at the very inception of and at the heart of all life. J. Philip Newell puts it this way: “Everything that is born in the great matrix of life is sustained by roots that reach into the deep mystery of God’s life.” And I love the imagery these words paint of the seed and humanity’s roots reaching deep into our Maker’s life. What a comforting and safe place is the sheltering heart of Yahweh!

As the rain and the 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 desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:10-11 ✝

**In the collage are a collection of seed pods I found in my winter garden.