1155. A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars. ~Victor Hugo

I haven’t much time to be fond of anything…
but when I have a moment’s fondness
to bestow, most times…the roses get it.
I began my life among them
in my father’s nursery garden, and
I shall end my life among them, if I can.
~Wilkie Collins

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The garden is the place I go for refuge and shelter, not the house. In the house are duties and annoyances, servants to exhort and admonish, furniture, and meals; but out there blessings crowd round me at every step — it is there that I am sorry for the unkindness in me, for those selfish thoughts that are so much worse than they feel; it is there that all my sins and silliness are forgiven, there that I feel protected and at home, and every flower and weed is a friend and every tree a lover. When I have been vexed I run to them for comfort, and when I have been angry without just cause, it is there I find absolution. Did ever a woman have so many friends? And always the same, always ready to welcome me and fill me with cheerful thoughts. Happy children of a common Father, why should I, their own sister, be less content and joyous than they? ~Elizabeth von Arnim

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Gardens and chocolate
both have mystical qualities.
~Edward Flaherty

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I would hurry to my place of shelter far from the tempest and the storm. ~Psalm 55:8 ✝

**All flower images taken by me in my yard; lower most chocolate image via Pinterest

1146. An interior is the natural projection of the soul. ~Coco Chanel

A house is much more than a mere shelter.
It should lift us emotionally and spiritually.
~John Saladino

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This week I mentioned to a friend that I was getting a new sofa for our living room, and she asked me to send her a picture of it when it came. So I took some photos and afterwards I sat on it a while, along with my cat, enjoying my newly cleaned living room and looking at all the things that we have accumulated therein over the last 40 years. Ours is not a large house and it’s a modest one, but we have done some things within our means over the years to improve and update it. It’s still certainly not a fancy one; but it is ours and so holds all that define who and what James and Natalie and Nikki are. Simply put, it is the altar upon which lie the strivings, good and bad, of our combined lives. And since then I’ve been wondering what others might have to say about what makes a house a home and if it means the same for everyone? So to delve into that quandary I gathered some thoughts by others who more or less put into words what I would say on that subject and decided to accompany them with photos of the part of my house I took that day.

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I always amazes me to thing that every house on every street is full of so many stories; so many triumphs and tragedies, and all we see are yards and driveways. ~Glenn Close

Luxuries are never so comfortable
as
are the familiar, ordinary things of home. ~Eucharista Ward

Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.  It is the place of confidence.  It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts.  It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule. ~Frederick W. Robertson

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Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. ~Charles Dickens

Home is where we feel at ease,
where we belong,
where we can create surroundings
that reflect our tastes and pleasures…
Making a home is a form
of creativity open to everyone.
~Terence Conran

Home should be an oratorio of the memory, singing to all our after life melodies and harmonies of old-remembered joy. ~Henry Ward Beecher

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Home is a place where we feel safe and comfortable, a place to relax and recharge. ~Catherine Pulsifer

There is a magic in that little world, home;
it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts
and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits.
~Robert Southey

Home is the father’s kingdom, the mother’s world and a child’s paradise. Home is the heart of life… ~Christian Morgenstern

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Where is home? Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness. Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace. ~Vernon G. Baker

Home is
where you can be silent
and still be heard . . .
When you can ask
and find out who you are . . .
Where people laugh with you
about yourself . . .
Where sorrow is divided
and joy multiplied . . .
Where we share and love
and grow.
~Author Unknown

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. ~Psalm 84:3  ✝

**The top photo is a part of the front of my house.

714. A few minutes ago, every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like in worship. ~John Muir

The little reed,
bending to the force of the wind,
soon stood upright again
when the storm had passed over.
~Aesop

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What was that? Did you see it? There it was again! Late in the day yesterday lightning began flashing high in the eastern sky. Soon we heard distant thunder grumbling west of us as the heavens grew ominously darker and darker. Overhead cold northerly air was colliding with warm southerly currents, and with that always comes the potential for dangerous storms and high winds that spawn tornados. Even the birds who are normally chattering and feeding at that time of day were becoming silent or absent from the yard. The cat inside as well sensed a mounting threat and anxiously headed for shelter under the bed. Before long the winds began picking up, heavy rain started to fall, the lights inside flickered off and on and off, and we scrambled to find candles. And then, wham bam, all hell broke loose! Winds in excess of 70 mph blasted the yard and pushed forcefully against the house testing the fortitude and flexibility of the mightiest of trees and the sturdiest of structures. At first all we could do was stand there staring out the window almost in disbelief at what we were witnessing, but when the warning siren went off, we headed for shelter in the hallway. So it goes sometimes in the spring here in Texas; the usual peaceful hush of twilight evolves into the worrisome madness of turbulent extremes. Fortunately this time around the tornado that was seen about 5 minutes from our house did not touch the ground, the winds that huffed and puffed did not blow our house down, the rains that rushed in brutal, sideways torrents did not wash us away, the power was only off until the next day around 10 AM and then again around 5 for a couple of hours instead of days on end as it has before, and it didn’t take us but about half a day to clear away all the leafy, twiggy, and branchy downed debris. As for all the rose petals that were blown off before their time, they laid a lovely, colorful layer over patches of the green grass. So thank you Lord for these and all your tender mercies.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. ~Psalm 25:4-6   ✝

**To all my readers: because of the storm and our subsequent power outages, I’m way behind now on reading yours posts and answering comments and/or emails.

712. Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. ~C. S. Lewis

Life finds me down, but not out. Hope finds me exhausted, but not emotionally bankrupt. Faith finds me weary, but not willing to stop pressing on. Health, you can try hard to drag me along, but I can’t be drug along when I’m in God’s hands. He holds me. ~Heather Mertens, fellow blogger at: http://40yearwanderer.com/blog/

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Sometimes, I am startled out of myself, like this morning when the wild geese came squawking, flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek across the sky made me think about my life, the places of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling, the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place. Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold for a brief while, then lose it all each November. Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields, land on the pond with its sedges and reeds. You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks. All we do is pass through here, the best way we can. They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again. ~Barbara Crooker

I read this article above at: http://www.gratefulness.org and thought it was too great not to share.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  ~Isaiah 43:2   ✝

685. Man is a knot into which relationships are tied. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Someone to tell it to
is one of the fundamental
needs of human beings.
~Miles Franklin

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Have you ever pondered why we, any of us, blog? Or write books? Or pen poetry? Or compose music? Or draw? Or paint? I have and I think the quote above by Miles Franklin hits the proverbial nail squarely on the head. We, who pour out our lives or thoughts or passions or joys or hurts or whatever in some way, do in fact appear to have some compelling and fundamental need to do so. Emily Dickinson added another aspect to this idea when she described it, “as a shelter to speak” to some trusted other in her life. Like her, many of us, I believe, find not only great comfort but also a kind of self-soothing safety when we, individually or collectively, find ways to express ourselves to those we come to trust and admire. This is best described by the Swedish proverb that says a “shared joy is a double joy; a shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” In addition, I find something very cathartic and cleansing about “spilling my guts” to an “art or soul” mate given me by the Lord; they are the ones who give me the wings and courage to be all that He created me to be.

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort
of feeling safe with a person,
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all out, just as they are,
chaff and grain together
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping, and
with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.
~George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ~Proverbs 17:17   ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

366. If an apple blossom or a ripe apple could tell its own story, it would be, still more than its own, the story of the sunshine that smiled upon it, of the winds that whispered to it, of the birds that sang around it, of the storms that visited it, and of the motherly tree that held it and fed it until its petals were unfolded and its form developed. ~Lucy Larcom

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Potentially violent thunderstorms began to move in over us from the western and southwestern counties this afternoon. As they did, the normally busy birds disappeared first, and then the dogs began to bark up and down the alleyway. Before the rain started to fall, the sky darkened considerably, and we could hear thunder rumbling in the distance. At that point the innocents in the garden seemed stiffly poised as if to brace themselves against the nasty, threatening storms that carried with them the threat of hail and/or tornadoes. Neither they nor I had long to wait however because soon the heavens opened up, and rain began to pour down harder than it has in years. With the rain legions of lightning bolts filled the skies; at one point TV reports said our area had had 2000 lightning strikes during a 15 minute period. Talk about the potential for violent storms!  Now other than hearing water continue to drip from the gutters and thunder growl occasionally in the distance, the storms seem to have passed unless of course they build again as the evening progresses, and that they well could do. For such is life on the Texas prairies in May, but in the midst of a decade long drought me and the peach trees can’t help but sing praises to the Lord for today’s blessing of abundant rain. At the same time I’ve lived here long enough to be prudently praying that we continue to be sheltered from the nastiness that a tempest like this could yet spawn.

I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm. ~Psalm 55:8  ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!

** Image via Pinterest.

327. I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods. ~Wendell Berry

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Not undelightful, friend, our rustic ease
To grateful hearts; for by especial hap,
Deep nested in the hill’s enormous lap,
With its own ring of walls and grove of trees,
Sits, in deep shelter, our small cottage – nor
Far-off is seen, rose carpeted and hung
With clematis, the quarry whence she sprung,
O mater pulchra filia pulchrior,
(What a beautiful mother and beautiful daughter,)
Whither in early spring, unharnessed folk,
We join the pairing swallows, glad to stay
Where, loosened in the hills, remote, unseen,
From its tall trees, it breathes a slender smoke
To heaven, and in the noon of sultry day
Stands, coolly buried, to the neck in green.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

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“I (Jesus) am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be more fruitful.” ~John 15:1-2 ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us!  You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!

**Photos are of blossoms on my new Clematis vine…