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  ✝

1381. May…the month when the foliage of herbs and trees is most freshly green, when buds ripened and blossoms appear in their fragrance and loveliness. ~Sir Thomas Malory

Well, spring sprang.
We’ve had our state of grace 
and
our little gift of sanctioned madness,
courtesy of Mother Nature.
~David Assael

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As oncoming summer’s blast furnace begins to heat up so do the colors in the garden. It has literally become a lively fiesta outside my doors and creatures, great and small, winged or afoot, are partaking of the feasts that have been laid before them on Creation’s table.

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In fact they’ve been so busy of late supping on the produce of May’s “potent blood” that I’ve only been able to capture two recent “critter” images with my camera. But I wouldn’t keep any of them from their tasks even if I could for what they’re doing not only satisfies their hunger but also mine, and it guarantees that this time next year there will be more.

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God’s designs are such ingenious plans! For example these pollinating creatures are so much smaller than we and their lives span such a brief period of time, but what power their tiny wings and feet have in the grand scheme of things! We, mortal humanity that is, think ourselves to be so mighty and yet mankind literally owes its very existence to what comes from the labors of these annual pollinating dances upon earth’s stage.

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And sadly too many lives play out solely in the technological bubbles of modern society and so are completely unaware of the miraculousness of such scenarios and the utter life-supporting significance of what goes on outside myopic, sterile, and godless environments.

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Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. ~Excerpted line from Jeremiah 8:7 ✝

**All photos taken in her yard by Natalie

1359. Human beings need pleasure, as in to be thrilled, the way they need vitamins. ~Edited line by Lionel Tiger

thrilled

1. a. A sudden feeling of pleasure or excitement
    b. A source or cause of pleasure or excitement
2. a. A quivering caused by sudden excitement or emotion
    b. A trembling caused by pleasurable excitement or emotion

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O, money can’t buy the delights of the garden,
Nor Poetry sing all its charms:
There’s a solace and calm ne’er described by the pen
When we’re folded within Nature’s arms!
~Edited and adapted poem
by James Rigg

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Surely you’ve been thrilled by something that truly speaks to you, and when it does, your heart bursts with an adrenaline rush? I hope so! For me, is has happened time and time again in my garden during every season. And there is something about all of them that thrills and excites me through and through. But in spring the excitement ratchets up even more so especially when finding those first little green shoots pushing up through the soil or better yet that first bloom that makes me tremble with delight all the way down to my very core. As it sends pure elation racing through my veins, that spicy taste of something thrilling ushers along a sweet taste of hope. For in witnessing another round of earth’s sweet beginning in God’s Eden, I experience the richness of nature’s holy, ancient, and forever faithful design. In knowing that I am so filled with gladness that tears well up in gratitude for the privilege of being alive as well as for being granted time to lead a quiet life and work the soil with my hands in my tiny piece of Eden. Above and below are the first fruits of my labor this year; I planted these tulips last December, and their exquisiteness is taking by breath away day by day by day!

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To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…to be elated by the stars at night; to be thrilled by a bird’s nest or a flower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~Edited and adapted quote by John Burroughs

In trying to please God, we are asked in Scripture to: Make it our goal to live a quiet life, minding our own business and working with our hands… ~1 Thessalonians 4:11  ✝

1318. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples… ~John Muir

The oaks and pines and their brethren of the wood,
have seen so many suns rise and set,
so many seasons come and go,
and so many generations pass into silence,
that they may well wonder what
“the story of the trees” would be to us
if they had tongues to tell it,
or if we had ears fine enough to understand.
-Author Unknown

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When one thinks about earth’s courts in such a way, he/she realizes that trees, like us, stand on hallowed ground, and so it’s not surprising that throughout the ages trees have been given deep and sacred meanings. By observing the growth and death of trees, the flexible nature of their branches, the annual reoccurrence of their foliage, humanity has seen trees as powerful symbols of growth, decay, and resurrection. Trees and their way of providing shade and shelter are adored by both wildlife and humanity alike, and the views afforded from their lofty heights are to be envied. Trees are more than simply the largest elements of the landscape or garden; over time they become like venerated companions that unfailingly stand by us throughout the seasons and storms of life. Given their size and the fact that they prevent soil erosion, provide weather-sheltered ecosystems in and under their leaves, play a vital role in the production of oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide, moderate ground temperatures, and produce orchard fruits, trees speak to us of the largesse and power of God.

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Soon and in a blaze of glory the trees bearing the leaves in my photos will be stripped of their foliage, but though barren and seemingly no more than a silent sentry where they stands, somewhere in their core their music will play on. Muir’s idea that the fibers of the tree’s being thrills “like harp strings” at all times is true and answers Walt Whitman’s inquiry, “Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?” The music of life plays on in all of Creation, and like God’s presence it is never absent from us. We may not always hear the music but the melodies are there. We may be absent from the Lord, but He is never absent from us. He can be found in the lights of the sky, the colors of earth, the warmth of the sun, in waters that flow, in the wind that can be felt but not seen, and in the boughs of mighty trees. In his Celtic Psalter J. Philip Newell uses the image of trees as a revelation of God’s presence, “Like light dappling through the leaves of a tree and wind stirring its branches, like birdsong sounding from the heights of an orchard and the scent of blossom after rainfall, so you dapple and sound in the human soul, so you stir into motion all that lives.” When our ears and eyes weren’t “fine enough to understand,” God sent us His son. As we follow the star to the manger in celebration of Christ’s birth in a few weeks, may the music in all that God has made be heard, acknowledged, and honored.

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. -Luke 11:10  ✝

O come, O come Emmanuel!

1261. The color blue is everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight. ~John Ruskin

blue, the color of sea and sky
blue, a constant color in our lives
blue, the collective color of the spirit
blue, the only color which maintains
its own character in all of its tones
blue, the color of peace and calm

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indigo, the deeper blue of the
mystical borderland of wisdom
indigo, the color that turns blue
inward to increase personal
thought or profound insights
or instant understandings
white blue, the color of
communication with others
blue, blue green, and green
sacred colors for some peoples

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blue, dynamic and dramatic
blue, engaging and exhilarating
blue, that in some places is
a symbol of mourning or
sacrifice or warding off evil
blue, that in other places is
thought to correspond with
the 4 seasons, the 5 primary
elements, the directions,
blue, the color often associated
with feeling sad or unhappy
blue, a soothing element
in gardens everywhere

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And we even experience
the color blue in all our senses:
Blue is the look of a cool spring day.
Blue smells like a freshly bloomed flower.
Blue feels like a cool breeze on a hot day.
Blue tastes like tasty, sweet blueberries.
Blue sounds like gentle, falling rain.
Blue is the wonder in our minds.

…the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. ~Excerpt from Exodus 24:9-10  ✝

**Blue, as in these wondrous, tie-dye morning glories in my yard

1257. Things have their time, even eminence bows to timeliness. ~Baltasar Gracián

Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance
~Yoko Ono

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A shower, a late afternoon downpour sends little rivers flowing along the curbs;
A silence, a quiet hush falls after the rain;
A day, a passage of time almost spent dwindles peacefully as the sun lowers;
A hummingbird, a flying wonder comes to the feeder for its last sip of the day;
A cat, a feral wanderer arrives at the door looking for a final serving of food;
A plane, a distant sliver of a silver bird glides silently overhead,
And like all else as darkness draws nigh it appears to be moving in slow motion.
Then in the soon to be snuffed out light a bird perches up high in the bamboo
Calling loudly to its nightly bedfellows as it does every day about this time;
It’s as if it’s imploring stragglers to come home before darkness falls, and I wonder
If it could be that these birds who gather at dusk do so to talk of their day’s forays.
Or is it that they are raising their voices in nightly thanksgiving for the day?
Or maybe it’s just a benediction for safe passage through the long night that lies ahead.
Or perhaps they’re praying the sun will rise again to rekindle dawn’s flames.
Whatever it is or isn’t, onlookers of such occurrences find rhythm in such.
Nighttime follows the day and the morrow’s daytime will follow another night;
Both of them chasing round and round our sphere in an endless pursuit of purpose
As the seasons move across our fields and their remembrances grace our mortal lives.

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

**Image found on Pinterest

1246. If we were but conscious of our own utter littleness, we would not dare look with contempt on the smallest atom in the world. ~Charles Lanman

Clouds of insects danced and buzzed in the sunlight,
and the air was full of the piping of the song-birds.
Long glinting dragon-flies shot across the path, or hung
tremulous with gauzy wings and gleaming bodies.
~Edited excerpt from Arthur Conan Doyle

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Did you know that there’s always a party going on in a backyard. Yes, indeed there is, and the guests frolic on their flooring, the ground, and under the “coffered ceiling” of the sky. Some even “boogie down” underground; thus a lawn, not just the grass, is alive. And the world out there is filled with beasties that buzz, tweet, squawk, flutter, scurry, build, dance, burrow, hoot, chase, pounce, and soar among other things. Not only that but the party goes on 24/7. If you don’t believe me, just step outside sometime, take a look around, and listen.

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Depending upon the season and time of day or night, you might hear a chorus of amphibians, insects a buzzin’, and birds a callin’ or a singin’ or a drummin’. And those noisy birds, for example, just might be a gatherin’ nesting materials, or a feedin’ on berries or insects, or a splashin’ around in a birdbath. Whilst the birds are doing their things, the butterflies and bees might be a fluttterin’ about and a sippin’ on the nectars in flowers. If not that, then you might find a “hophopper” a chowin’ down on a tasty leaf or a dragonfly a skimmin’ across a surface of water. Or you might even find something exotic like my friend in the photos above a lookin’ back at you and gettin’ perturbed because you’re too close to its perch, so close in fact that it raises an arm of warning to scold you. When I find a praying mantis like this one, they are often on a rose bush which is where I found this one. Well actually it was on the trellis where the rose was, but I think he’d made his way from the rose over to it in hopes he could scare off dusk’s unwanted interloper.

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For who scorns the day of small things. ~Excerpt from Zechariah 4:10 ✝

*The collage of praying mantis images at the top created by Natalie from photos via Pinterest