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

735. Be empty of worrying…. Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. ~Rumi, as interpreted by Coleman Barks

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, more accessible,
to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, promise.
I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which came
to me as seed goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as a blossom, goes on as fruit.
~by Dawna Markova

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Grass

~by Mary Oliver

Those who disappointed, betrayed, scarified! Those who would still put their hands upon me! Those who belong to the past!

How many of us have weighted the years with groaning and weeping? How many years have I done it how many nights spent panting hating grieving, oh, merciless, pitiless remembrances?

I walk over the green hillsides, I lie down on the harsh, sun-flavored blades and bundles of grass; the grass cares nothing about me, it doesn’t want anything from me, it rises to its own purpose, and sweetly, following, the single holy dictum: tto be itself, to let the sky be the sky, to let a young girl be a young girl freely–to let a middle-aged woman, be comfortably, a middle-aged woman.

Those bloody sharps and flats–those endless calamities of the personal past. Bah! I disown them from the rest of my life, in which I mean to rest.

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4    ✝

**Lord, thank you for this faithful promise above and for the blessed encounter today with someone who, whenever I see her, never fails to put the wind, the holy ruach, back under the frail wings, the torch, and the promise of this aging woman.

**Both images via Pinterest

383. Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. ~Ruth Ann Schabacker

Pleasure is spread through the earth
In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.
~William Wordsworth

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My Aunt Johnnie worked for a shoe company, and so my sisters and I nearly always got shoes from her on our birthdays and at Christmas. But because a shoe box is so recognizable, and she, like me, hated being predictable, she put things other than shoes in the shoe boxes and the shoes in more unlikely boxes. As a result we had no idea what her gifts were until the day came to untie the ribbons and open them up. However, as Aunt Johnnie was a good and generous woman of means, we knew, even before we opened them, that we’d love and be grateful for whatever the gifts were.

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Scripture tells us that “this is the day the Lord has made” and then implores us to “rejoice and be glad in it.” Since each day is a gift from God and since He is a good and generous Father with unlimited means, we can rest assured that there is inherent goodness in all our days. But it is only with a grateful heart that in “untying the ribbon” and opening up the gift we’ll find the miraculous not only on the outstanding days but also in the common ones and those filled with trials.

Thought to ponder for the day: “I have nothing to give that was not a gift to me.”

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. Matthew 7:11 ✝

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!

** Images via Pinterest

365. Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

The moment a child is born,
the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed,
but the mother, never.
A mother is something
absolutely new.
~Chandra Mohan Jain

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In everyone’s life,
at some time,
our inner fire flickers
as if to go out.
It is then burst into flame
by an encounter
with another human being.
We should be thankful
for those people who
rekindle the inner spirit.
~Edited and adapted quote by Albert Schweitzer

This is an old photo of my daughter and I; she was about 2 years old when it was taken by her dad who was experimenting with special effects in his dark room. It has always been one of my favorite captures of the two of us, and so I’m posting it today as a tribute to all the “special effects” she has brought and continues to bring into our lives. It was her birth 5 days before my 30th birthday that rekindled my imperiled inner spirit, and so I celebrate her life today and every day! What an amazing gift from God she was and is!  Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord. ~Psalm 113:9  ✝

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!

358. White. . .is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. . . ~G. K. Chesterton

White, pristine, unblemished…

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The paper I write is white

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White is holy, pure

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They say light is white
Because it combines all colors

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So white is the mother of all colors

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The churning of all yellow, blue, green

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Colors sacrifice their egos
To the eternal white
The matriarch of all colors

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The fountain of extent colors
~Excerpted random lines
from a poem by John Matthew

White appears often in nature, and down through the ages references have been made to it in music, art, poetry, and prose. It seems it’s a color many have sought and still seek to embrace. Could it be because it’s the color of the heavenly orbs, the moon and stars that illuminate darkness, or because it’s the color of light, light that warms, heals, and inspires faith, or because it’s perceived as the color of purity, purity of the spirit, of the soul, and in the Christ. Regardless of what draws mortals into its web, many, like me, adore white and sing its praises especially the white flowery faces that grace a garden. In them it’s easy to see that as Chesterton asserts the color white is a “shining and affirmative” thing. Walter Bellingrath once rightfully noted that a garden “is like a beautiful woman with a different ball gown for each week of the year.” And dressed in her gowns of glistening white, a garden is one of the most glamorous and inspiring muses at the party.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. ~Ecclesiastes 9:7-8 ✝

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!

**Some of the images are from Pinterest

316. On the first warm day of spring I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy and my spirits soar. ~Helen Hayes

…the garden is not only a place
to make things grow and
to display the beautiful flowers of the earth,
but a place that should accord
with various moods of its admirers.
It should be a place
in which to hold light banter,
a place to laugh, and, besides
should have a hidden corner in which to weep.
~Alice Lounsberry

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Nor is the fragrant garden ever wholly our own…
Over hedge and wall,
and often far down the highway,
it sends a greeting
not alone to us who have toiled for it,
but to the passing stranger,
the blind beggar,
the child skipping to school,
the tired woman on her way to work,
the rich man,
the careless youth.
~Louise Beebe Wilder

Thank you, Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us!

The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng: Psalm 68:11 ✝

**Photo via Pinterest

225. Stripes that are red like the blood shed for me. ~Author Unknown

There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
~Joseph G. Holland

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The strongest connection one might make between the origins of the candy cane and any intentional Christian association is to guess that possibly some unknown person, at some indefinite time, took a long-existing form of sweet (i.e., straight white sticks of sugar candy) that was already associated with Christmas and produced bent versions of it to represent a shepherd’s crook and/or make it easier to hang on Christmas trees, but even that general association is nothing more than mere supposition with no supporting evidence behind it.  This is charming folklore, but one should not lose sight of the fact that such stories of the candy cane’s origins are, like Santa Claus, myths and not “true stories.”

There is one verifiable (albeit indirect) religious connection associated with the modern candy cane, however.

In 1919 Bob McCormack began making candy canes for local use and sales in Albany, Georgia, and by the middle of the century his company (originally the Famous Candy Company, then the Mills-McCormack Candy Company, and later Bob’s Candies) had become one of the world’s leading candy cane producers. But candy cane manufacturing initially required a fair bit of labor that limited production quantities (the canes had to be bent manually as they came off the assembly line in order to create their ‘J’ shape,) and it was McCormack’s brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller, who came up with the solution: Father Keller invented the Keller Machine that automated the process of shaping straight candy sticks into candy canes.   ~Barbara Mikkelson

The woman said to him, “I know Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ).  “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”  ~John 4:25  ✝