1427. It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. ~André Gide

Use your authentic voice
and share from your heart.
Be real. Be you. Tell your story.
~Arianna Merritt

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My discourse the last two days has not been penned in order to mitigate myself, to explain myself, nor to address any of my personal needs. I just hate to see so many people, especially young girls and women, believing they have to create “versions” of themselves to be worthy and/or to survive when all they need do is discover and/or reconnect with what’s real and true about themselves. One should never have to tell lies to validate him or herself. We were already born “enough!” For after all we are the apple of God’s eye and created in His image! Nothing in this life is perfect, and so we must learn to work with the imperfections in and around us. That does NOT mean, however, that we have to become differently imperfect to do that. We are already equipped with what we need to accomplish our purpose in this life. In fact it was in-utero-hard-wired into our beings.

A version by definition is: something differing in certain respects. Although time causes our physical bodies to differ and maturing can and should bring a differing and greater wisdom, we do NOT have to alter our core, our soul. Once I learned this not only did I successfully raise a child to be true to herself, but as a teacher I encouraged needy adolescent children every day. And when dealing with them, I learned quickly that being true to my real self made me more trustworthy, more approachable, and more able to shore up in truth the wobbly legs of those who were struggling to “fit in.” Yes, it requires diligent vulnerability, transparency, honesty, and integrity, but that’s what I came into the world designed to be able to muster, and so did YOU!!!

To be continued…

The images he makes are a fraud; they have no breath in them. ~Excerpt from Jeremiah 51:17 ✝

**Image via Pinterest; text added by Natalie

1422. It wasn’t until I slowed the car and rolled down the windows that I realized I spend most of my days driving “through” life without driving “in” life. ~Craig D. Lounsbrough

Go placidly amid the noise and haste
and remember what peace
there may be in silence.
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As far as possible, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly
and listen to others for everyone has a story.
Don’t compare yourself with others,
for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself.
The world is full of trickery,
but let this not blind you
to what virtue there is.
Many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
love is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you
in sudden misfortune but do not
distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of God no less than
the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
~-Edited and adapted rendition of
THE DESIDERATA, by Max Erhmann

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. ~Psalm 150:1, 6 ✝

**THE DESIDERATA became very popular in the 1970’s and still holds some well-penned truths of which I needed to remind myself after recent hectic days.

***Images found on Pinterest; collage created by Natalie

1420. The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. ~Henry Miller

Each blade of grass has its spot on earth
whence it draws its life, its strength;
and so man is rooted to the land from which
he draws his faith together with his life.
~Joseph Conrad

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In what I assume was a poetic conversation with the Lord, Edna St. Vincent Millay, an American lyrical poet, said “God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on Thy heart.” In another instance, a Quaker and itinerant preacher named Elias Hicks wrote that “the fullness of the godhead dwelt in every blade of grass.” And Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish satirical writer and teacher rhetorically asked, “To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes.” Like me, these writers realize that man was meant to be “rooted to the land and therefore to God.” Sadly, however, in today’s world because many no longer live close to the land, the “umbilical cord,” as it were, that used to connect all humanity to the land and God has been severed. In fact there are some who have never even been close enough to the land to reach down into earth’s hallowed ground, and one simply cannot grow roots to connect to concrete and steel or find anything sacred or nurturing in them. Thankfully though, in an effort to reconnect people with the land and to provide healthier food for the residential inner city dwellers of this country there are those who are finding places to build community gardens so that people get involved in caring for the land and reaping harvests from it once again. Equally good is the fact that a fair share of schools across the nation are incorporating habitat gardens into the learning experiences of their students. As a whole we may no longer live in a primarily agrarian society, but as always God helps His children find ways to remain connected to His good earth and to Him. For there is something so very holy in picking the “fruit” of one’s labors in the soil and putting it in the mouth; it is the biblical “manna” that not only feeds the belly but also feeds the soul.

Every blade of grass
 has its angel
that bends over it and
whispers, 
“Grow, grow!”
~The Talmud

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You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. ~Psalm 65:9-13 ✝

**Images via Pinterest and Pixabay

1416. Imagination is the soul’s happiest retreat. ~James Lendall Basford

Half the interest of a garden
is the constant exercise of the imagination.
~Mrs. C.W. Earle

Where does our imagination come from? It’s spawned in the mind of God, and the conduit is the imagination that connects us to our creative Maker in whose image we are made. And what a great place a garden is to let one’s imagination run wild! It can loosed over and over again in the ever-changing shapes of the beds and paths, in the kinds of plants that are introduced, and in the garden’s supports and structures. Among other venues my imagination has led me over the years to include pieces of yard art to my gardens. For me it adds whimsical and charming levels of interest and feeds my inner child and would-love-to-have-been an artist self. Given all this, I’m want to end my musings tonight with an edited and adapted rendition of one of John O’Donohue’s blessings for the artist in all of us.

May your mornings be times when you become
A pure vessel for what wants to ascend from silence.
May your imagination reach beyond imitation
And the wheel of repetition, deep into the call of all
The unfinished and unsolved until the veil of
The unknown yields and something original begins
To stir toward your senses and grow stronger
In your heart in order to come to birth in a clean
Line of form that claims from time a rhythm
Not yet heard, that calls to space a different shape.
May whatever it is be its own force field and
Dwell uniquely between the heart and the light
To surprise the hungry eye…
~John O’Donohue

…and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. ~Exodus 31:3-5 ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1415. Imagination is the soul’s happiest retreat. ~James Lendall Basford

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health,
and quiet breathing.
~John Keats

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The human body needs one kind of nourishment, while the spirit needs to be fed in other ways. One of the needs of the spirit is beauty, and nature’s vast array of beauty has a way of strengthening and healing body and soul. Creation is a place to “play in and pray in,” and when we spend time in earth’s sanctuaries, we gain a better perspective of what’s really important as our senses are heightened and ordered. Rachel Carson alleged that “those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life,” and as Keats said, our breathing becomes quieter in such places. Quieted and slow breathing does indeed promote a sense of well being and induce a healthy state of mind. Also, when we are alone with the Lord in any of nature’s settings, it is easy to feel His presence. More importantly if we listen carefully when in the midst of the natural world’s profound silences, we can hear Him speak to us.

God made the forests, the tiny stars, and the wild winds–
and I think that He has made them partly as a
balance for that kind of civilization that would
choke the spirit of joy out of our hearts.
He made the great open places for people who want
to be away from the crowds that kill all reverence.
And I think He is glad at times to have us forget our cares
and responsibilities so that we may be nearer Him–
as Jesus was when He crept away into the wilderness to pray.
~Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. -Mark 1:35 ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

 

 

1410. Color is a power which directly influences the soul. ~Wassily Kandinsky

Of all God’s gifts to the sighted man,
color is the holiest,
the most divine, the most solemn.
-John Ruskin

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To the sighted man color is undeniably holy, but the sanctity of it goes deeper than the eye. Deep within the human soul I believe color is recognized as tidings from the Father of our world. There is also a holy melody meant for the ears. Pablo Picasso once asked, “Why do two colors, one put next to the other, sing?” He couldn’t explain it nor can I, but there are color combinations that compose the sweetest of tunes. Pink and blue is one of those duos, and together they sing a divine harmony reminiscent of sapphire skies filled with pink ribbons of light. And Richter, a soviet pianist, said, “Music is the poetry of the air,” and I couldn’t agree more because these colorful rhyming couplets fill the breath of my garden with prayer-like chants as well as with the holiness of their hues.

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. ~Psalm 148:13  ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1400. Shall I dance…

I hear the sound of voices singing joyful hymns of the gospel,
Shall I dance with thee, O Lord, in the breeze at dawn?
Yes, says the Lord of my soul and the dance of life!

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I hear the sound of voices singing joyful hymns of the gospel.
Shall I dance with thee O Lord in the morning light?
Yes, says the Lord of my soul and the dance of life!

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I hear the sound of voices singing joyful hymns of the gospel.
Shall I dance with thee O Lord upon the dewy grass?
Yes, says the Lord of my life and the dance!

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I hear the sound of voices singing joyful hymns of the gospel.
Shall I dance with thee all the day long O Lord?
Yes, says the Lord of my soul and the dance of life!

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I hear the sound of voices singing joyful hymns of the gospel.
Shall I dance with thee O Lord when the evening shadows fall?
Yes, says the Lord of my soul and the dance of life!

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Then O Lord when day is done
and sleep takes me into its arms,
will You watch over me until we dance again
upon the morrow’s stage?
Yes, says the Lord of the dance
and the lover of my immortal soul!

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And when I awaken again in this dark and decaying world,
may I quake in your presence visible in all that surrounds me!
And may You refresh my vitality and strength for another day!
Yes, says the Lord of the dance and the lover of my immortal soul!

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 11.11.04 PM.pngThis is my story
This is my song
Loving my Savior
all the day long!

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. ~Psalm 143:10  ✝

**Photos found on Pinterest; collage created by Natalie