I miss me…

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I miss me. The old me. The contented me. The bright me. The smiling me. The laughing me. The gone me. The me who didn’t see one of her hardest trials coming. It’s not that my life was ever perfect or pain free because it has never really been either of those things. No one’s ever is. But it was a known world, a quiet world, a world that had been accepted, a world from which a measure of wisdom had been garnered. And as long as I’ve lived I should have learned that we live in a constant state of flux in this world and so change is inevitable. There are always new lessons to be learned, new trials and tribulations, new insights to be gained, new purposes to be served. For the Lord has need of us and our gifts. And He knows we need to have our hearts softened again and again so that we continually yearn to hear His voice, read His Word, as well as trust and lean on Him and Him only for all our needs. Though we cannot understand much of the Divine mysteries, Yahweh designed us to seek Him and what more compelling catalysts are there than sleepless nights, relentless pain, and endless discomforts to drive us back under the shelter of His wings and near the sound of his still, small voice. And the undeserved blessing is that when we think we can’t go another step further, He is the strength and impetus that comes to help us keep putting one foot in front of the other. God is after all a good, good Father, and He doesn’t want to lose any of us even those of us who were once lost. Jesus always wants to bring us back into His keeping where hope lives, love lives, healing lives, and His grace upon grace sustains and saves us. So though these things above are gone for now, I’m living by faith that they will return even though I have one more week of radiation, which has been one of the hardest things to endure mentally, emotionally, and physically, to come my way, and there is yet another worrisome, even potentially life threatening, bridge to cross next month.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10  ✝

**Photo and text by Natalie

***For those new to my blog, the radiation treatments have exacerbated my migraine headaches and restless leg symptoms that had previously been relatively under control with my medications. Since the radiation treatments have ramped them up, sleep has been very elusive and the pain from one or both has pushed into the range of nearly unbearable and I’ve maxed out on my meds.

1446. Beauty is a nectar which intoxicates the soul. ~T.C. Henley

Beauty unites all things,
links together flower and star,
with chains more certain than
those of reason.
~Henry James Slack

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One spring years ago when the flowering trees were in bloom, we came across one of the most beautiful specimens I’d ever seen. I hadn’t a clue as to what kind of tree it was, but I knew I had to have one of my own one day. Thus began the search, a search as it turned out that was not so easy. First I had to find out what the name of the tree was, and once I found that out I discovered that none of the local nurseries had even heard of it before much less had one for sale. So I went online and found a few mail order places that had them. They were fairly expensive but I knew I’d never be happy until one grew here.

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One spring years ago when the flowering trees were in bloom, we came across one of the most beautiful specimens I’d ever seen. I hadn’t a clue as to what kind of tree it was, but I knew I had to have one of my own one day. Thus began the search, a search as it turned out that was not so easy. First I had to find out what the name of it was, and once I found that out I discovered that none of the local nurseries had even heard of it before much less had one for sale. So I went online and found a few mail order places that had them. They were fairly expensive but I knew I’d never be happy until I had one of my own.

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Then another year or two went by and I finally found one at a nursery in a small town close to where we live. It was autumn and the leaves were falling off but you could tell it was alive so we bought it and all winter my hopes ran high that come spring I would at last have my ornamental Peppermint Peach Tree. As the temps began to rise, I’d go out every day looking for signs of life only to find none and eventual heartbreak once again.

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So I told myself it just wasn’t meant to be and moved on until last spring when I saw another one in full bloom again. As soon as I got home I got online to try one more time to find one, and I did. It came on a late and cold wintry day which was not a good time to get out and plant it. It was packed in ice to keep it alive until we didn’t have to plant it immediately, so it lived like that for nearly a week until at last we could finally get out and get it in the ground. And then the waiting game began again. Every day I would make my little trek out to the back fence where we had planted it to see if anything was happening and sure enough green leaf swellings began to appear and what looked like a few blossoms too. Some of the little flowers are white, some are white with red stripes, and some are just red, and it’s all one one tree, thus the name, Flowering Peppermint Peach Tree.

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A week later, we had a late freeze and I feared the worst, but although the little blossom swellings fell off the green leaves did not and so all summer the little baby tree was filled with the sweet music of many leaves and I made sure it was watered well. Then autumn followed by winter came and the leaves vanished. Nevertheless, I waited with great faith that this, the third try, would prove fruitful and praise the Lord and hallelujah it did! I know, I know, it’s just a tree right?! And many would think me silly and that such really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but you see it truly does. It reminds me that God is still in His heaven and all’s right with the world!!! Mankind may be doing it’s best to destroy all that Yahweh made, but He, the Maker of heaven and earth, is still on the Throne of Grace and in control!

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Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. ~Deuteronomy 7:9 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie; the first one is the tree when I first saw it years ago in another’s yard, and the remaining ones are what’s happening now in my yard on my own little tree

1435. Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us. ~Malcolm Muggeridge

Remember this. When people choose
to withdraw far from a fire,
the fire continues to give warmth,
but they grow cold.
When people choose to
withdraw
far from light,
the light continues 
to be bright in itself
but they are in darkness.
This is also the case when 
people
withdraw from God.
~Augustine

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Try as some may, purporting that life is “a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing” or that it’s merely the result of events that can be explained through science or reason falls terribly short of reality. Nothing in these assumptions explains the existence of or need for compassion, grace, love, or mercy. Nor do they explain the compulsion in the human heart for expressions of such. If mortals were simply intellectual beings, they’d not emote, express feelings, or commit loving acts that are seemingly inspired in some inscrutable place within their physical being. These things, like all happenings in Creation, are indeed symbolic narratives designed to teach or illustrate truths about the Ancient of Days who created and wired into humans the capacity to feel, express emotions, and extend kindnesses to one another. It’s also true, as Muggeridge suggests, that the Author of light and life wrote into the fabric of Creation parables for His children and that getting the gist of them is an art, an art mastered not only by looking carefully at the apparent and outward realities of Creation but also by peering into its inward and inner realities. The sacred isn’t merely above us but forever within us and the entire body of Creation. Discovering the sacrosanct in all that Yahweh made can’t help but stir in the descendants of Adam a sense of connection and belonging to a higher Power. The resources and bounty of planet earth alone give us plenteous reasons to sense the presence of a Holy Benefactor and to feel His gracious, creative, and loving hands in our lives. What sparks a real desire within the human heart to seek Him is the “getting the message” within all the happenings of that which He has made. However, in case Creation’s parables are too puzzling, over 2,000 years ago God expanded the narrative and clearly revealed Himself when He sent His Son to be our Savior. Jesus is our memory, and in coming to offer us salvation, He reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong. As we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth this weekend, I wish all of you a very blessed Christmas. As a very familiar yuletide song says, “O come let us adore Him!” And as we do, I pray that we create a compelling testimony to others of the Lord’s very real presence in our midst.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20 ✝

**Image via the Internet

1432. The leaves drift toward the earth like ships to land, a voyage launched from timbers’ great lofty berths… ~Excerpt from a poem by Dan Young

Ah! the year is slowly dying,
And the wind in tree-top sighing,
Chant his requiem.
Thick and fast the leaves are falling,
High in the air wild birds are calling,
Nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn.
~ Edited poem by
Mary Weston Fordham

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Day by day autumn’s end draws nearer, and thus even more strains of “nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn” fill the coldish air. And because the temperatures finally dropped below freezing for several nights here, the things that had been hanging on perished or are now in the process of dying and so their joyous songs of life have ceased for the year. The terrain too is well-nigh down to its barest essentials, and all that we’ll soon hear are winter’s deep sighs and silences or the wailing of her bitter, gusty winds. Things that  hold onto the promise of spring either in their roots or in splitting seed casings will be busy beneath the soil whilst they wait for the sun to invite them to flourish “Thick and fast” falling remnants of leaves have been and are layering the ground to protect what lies beneath waiting for the appointed hour of rebirth in earth’s next circle around the sun. It’s all a God-ordained and Scripturally- declared grand plan, and I love watching Yahweh’s strategy play out round and round as the years pass. In fact on days when I feel out of sorts, I’ve learned to get outside regardless of how cold or hot it is, and as I look, listen, and wait under heaven’s canopy, it’s not long before my inner compass is made right again. Feeling earth’s heartbeat and becoming a part of its rhythms keep at bay the sense of hopelessness that’s often engendered by the trials of life and a world torn by depravity and meriless madness. Being close to the land is as comforting and reassuring as when I was a kid and slipped my hand into the safety of a parent’s hand. The same thing happens even more so now that I’m aware I’m drawing near God and what He has made. Standing in His Creation, I’m certain that even though humans transgress and frequently fall short of what they’re meant to be and do, He still stands ready to take His children by the hand, comfort them, and proffer His magnanimous gestures of mercy and redeeming grace. It’s not unlike what I experienced when I first felt my child move in my womb. I knew that the sensation which felt like wings of a butterfly barely grazing my inner flesh was the unmistakable touch of something sacred stirring inside me. The Lord’s movement in our inner and outer lives is much the same. It may be an ever so slight brush against our flesh and/or soul, but we know that we have indeed felt the Almighty’s loving Presence.

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:10-11  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1421. Before me, even as behind, God is, and all is well.  ~John Greenleaf Whittier

At the bottom every man knows well enough
that he is a unique human being, only once on this earth;
and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is,
ever be put together a second time.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Scripture tells us we are all made in the image of God, Himself, so why then are we not all the same? I’ve come to think of it like this: our bodies are a whole entity made up of diverse parts that on their own cannot function nor do they serve any purpose as separate parts. However, together they work as a fully functioning part capable of being and accomplishing great things. So not unlike the human body then we, as individuals, are all diverse in appearance and here for sundry, specific purposes in the whole body of Creation/Christ. Though not all cookie cutter images are we, we are designed to be diversity in unity with God as well as unified to all the diverse things He has made. We are meant to be in relationships so as to deepen our reverence and affection for all mankind and our Creator who is bigger, more powerful, more diverse, and more loving than we could ever imagine. As we live out our lives, what our eyes see and what our mouths speak should always be filtered first through our heart of hearts where we are inextricably tied to the strings of God’s heart. What we look like matters only in the light of how we treat everyone and everything that crosses our path on this journey, be it the earth and its bounty that sustains mind, body, spirit, and soul, the creatures we encounter, or the people who share our lives. We are all an integral part of a bigger picture. Where we are at any given moment and what we do affects whatever or whoever is near to us in this sacred kind of jigsaw puzzle. But our impact doesn’t really end there, does it? Whatever or whomever we touch has reverberations. It’s like the ripple effect in a pond; the circles just keep moving on and on taking drops of the whole along with them until they reach the outermost boundaries if there at any. Thus although we are unique and seemingly an end unto ourselves, we must never underestimate the reach of our lives and the effects of our unique blossoming within the sphere of the whole body of this thing called life. Everything we say or don’t say at times and everything we do or don’t do sometimes makes a difference! And no two entities are exactly the same; also all bear scars sustained during growing seasons in this thing called life. Yet we are one with the One who made us, and it is to Yahweh that we shall return!

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. ~1 Corinthians 12:12 ✝

**Images found on the Internet

 

1409. A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman

For, after all, put it as we may ourselves,
we are all of us, from birth to death, guests
at a table which we did not spread.
The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath
are parts of the banquet…
Shall we think of the day then as a chance
to come nearer our Host, and find out
something of Him who has fed us so long?
-Rebecca Harding Davis

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Autumn is perennially one of the two seasons in which I pray every available drop of glory lands squarely in the metaphorical cup intended to quench the thirst of the my soul. Although there are delights to serve that purpose in all the seasons, spring and fall feed my parched soul like no other, and I would lament the spillage of even a single drop of their honeyed elixir. From the very beginning all humanity has indeed been a guest at a table it did not set, and Yahweh who set the table remains the Gracious Host of the banquet which is annually laid before us. Given that, the question is how does one respond appropriately to the Lord’s continuous and magnanimous gifts. Among other things Scripture says His people should rejoice and be glad in their days and that they should be thankful for His gifts and praise Him always. So years ago when I began to realize how much a bent toward cynicism was squelching my gratitude and keeping me from receiving God’s full measure of grace, I began an experiment to prove something to myself. At the end of each day, I’d write down at least 5 blessings, good things that I’d experienced during the course of the day. Despite my doubts of accomplishing that goal for any length of time, I soon discovered that I could find more than enough commendable and/or noteworthy good things for which to thank God, especially the blessings that come through the five senses especially when I discovered that morning glories love the fall’s cooler temps and put on a splendid, “grand finale.” Once moe I realized that for any relationship to work and flourish it is not enough to just feel love. The recipient, be it a mortal he or she or a Deity, they must be told and shown as often as possible how deep our love and gratitude goes.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. -Philippians 2:1-2 ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1352. If God had wanted to be a big secret, He would not have created babbling brooks and whispering pines. ~Robert Brault

Nor would He have created blue skies, nor sandy beaches nor stars above, nor beautiful flowers, nor falling snow, and on and on the list of clues goes. God wants to speak to us through all that He has made. All of Creation gives pointers into Yahweh’s mystery because it is part of His grand plan that we draw near Him for in so doing we discover our divinely-inspired and eternal connection to Abba, our Loving Father.

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The most beautiful thing
we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and all science.
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer pause to wonder
and stand rapt in awe, is as good
as dead: his eyes are closed.
~Albert Einstein

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Einstein is right; it’s impossible for science to explain everything and in the pause of wonder, rapt in awe, we come to appreciate the endless and vast wonders of what God’s mind imagined, what His words spoke, and what His hands created. Thus in being brought close to the heart and mind of God, one’s sense of childlike astonishment returns the I nexpressible joy and utter excitement of life. And it helps us to know on a more conscious level that there’s more to life than what we can understand and explain. That’s why I like to think of the unfathomable mysteries around us as sacred benedictions, blessing at the close of earth’s daily holy orders that encourage us to stay in the Lord’s keeping and to continue looking for more revelations of the Holy One’s nature and intent for our lives.

Who…is like You, LORD? Who is like You—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? ~Excerpted passage from Exodus 15:11  ✝

**These images were taken in the springtime, but that chair and others like it are always in close proximity to my door, and I sit in them on most everyday of the year even if it’s for just a short while.