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Two photo challenges in a row, so beautifully synonymous – why not combine them?

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Sunrise over cotton field

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Ahhhhmbience!

They both have grace, they both have ambience. Graceful ambience is what I felt when I stood poised with my device ready to capture each scene.

But moreso, I felt it through all five senses: the humidity of bath salts, the lure of flames, the rush of water, the electrification of new sunlight, the smell of cotton…

I paused in each place to capture the moment not just on camera, but in my soul. I hope you are able to inhale deeply with each of these photos and be here with me.

Thank You, God, for grace. Grace to be present in the here and now, to embrace the moment as You’ve created it. Let us savor each sunrise and sundown, every Alpha and Omega…for it all belongs to You.

Happy New Year to my friends and fellow bloggers…

Please join me in welcoming 2017 with some resilient sea-horsey sentiments, inspired by my new bloggy friend plainmama (yes, paint AND prose are just a couple of her many talents).

Consider the seahorse (species pictured are native to our Gulf coast) as we face the new year – may we be that creature which uses motion to stay the course, in which flexibly goes with the flow of the ocean’s current…confidently stretching ourselves to greater possibilities while instinctively coiling interdependently for anchoring:


Tranquil amid perpetual motion,

Simplicity dominates life;

Beauty and harmony in its movement,

The husband is the wife.

(Interesting side notes: The Latin genus hippocampus (hippos=horse, campus=sea monster) – the hippocampus is the deepest part of our brain governing memory, the part that looks like a seahorse deep within and is the first to go in dementia…and also flatlines when adrenaline rushes during a perceived threat, trauma or hardship. The sea horse does not stay with the same mate for life (fluidity!) and the female dumps thousands of eggs on the male at once because less than 1% survive…which is why I did this photo shoot since it is so, so difficult to keep seahorses in captivity (and octopi, a future blog topic) – carpe diem, baby!

Hey, God, thank You for another year of buoyancy amid the current and for keeping us in motion that we don’t get stuck, trapped or drowned – that You keep us moving amid the current of the universe without fail.

Fluent, fluid and flexible! Yes, God, please stretch uS to the ceiling of our potential while taking great comfort in the sanctity of each other….grounded and heaven-bound, all at once!

The path to Christmas at our house seemed a lot like the one for which the day itself celebrates.

This year has been a long, hard journey…only to get to the end to find no room at the inn, in many ways.

The year has been a story of disabilities, disasters and way too many losses….but also one of perseverance, sharpening and victories, often disguised as hardships. I am highly confident that 2017 will be a year of rebuilding and grace.

So, there weren’t as many gifts under the tree this year, and many of them would have blended in with the latest Fruit of the Loom commercial….which may sound bleak for American children in this day and age – at least at first glance.

But in our culture of entitlement, I think it was just what the children needed to learn some valuable character lessons. 

Less yields more appreciation and a deeper sense of valuing “Stuff.” Less is just what was needed to drive home some salient points we parents otherwise try to teach our children with varying degrees of success. 

I can safely say it is much harder to teach some of these lessons unless a child experiences the sting of disappointment, of going without. A little humility yields great things!

There were lessons this morning in climbing out of a pit, of garnering one’s creativity and ingenuity to generate solutions to get where you want to be, to realizing your dreams. To being the one to make your own dreams come true instead of relying upon others and the world to make it happen FOR you. 

Actually, kind of like the very premises our country was founded upon!

Instead of a spirit of downtrodden weakness, a prevailing spirit of hope, faith and love.

And it didn’t come in the form of an expensive gift, it was not proud, it did not boast. There were no clanging cymbals.

My friends, God was right when He said the greatest of these is LOVE. This gift sat in at the back of the tree in a little silver, unmarked box, having gone mostly unnoticed until this morning.

The very youngest child patiently waited until all the gifts had been opened and he quietly padded over to his mother, the one in the room whose name was not on any of the gifts (because it’s all about the kids, right?) and he handed her the plain  tin box and eagerly waited for her to open it. 

His light blue eyes danced with anticipation as she carefully opened it and joyously received the greatest gift of all:


And Merry Christmas with love to you all! 

May God bless you richly with His love…but don’t look for it at the 5 star resort in the top-floor suite. It can be found in a quiet valley of solitude, where things are simple and lowly, sweet and holy.

Can you see a few different paths in this photo?

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Crooked path my life has wrought,

A straight one just could not be sought

 

Had I walked a path so straight,

The views might not have been so great

 

I got to see both here and there

And felt like I went everywhere

 

Thank you, God, for varied ways

And different trails yet to blaze

 

The shortest route may seem the best

But zig-zag paths are truly blessed!

 

 

 

Where I live, the concept of a New Horizon draws many a soul each day. 

They flock to these shores resolving to make a fresh start, a golden retirement, a new identity or a temporary escape from their reality.

Living by the sea, however, still necessitates daily grind. Laundry and dishes don’t go away, things break and need fixing and, bless our hearts, there is no escape from this fine, white sugar sand tracked into the house daily…but I am NOT complaining!

So my new horizon for 2017 will be to to see my world anew through the eyes of our visitors – to actually pause to BREATHE deeply during the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. To be more mindful of the beauty surrounding me. To engage the 5 senses and escape back into my world here, anew.

2016 has been a year of tremendous transition in my life, and I bet in yours, too! 

I invite you to join me in rediscovering yourself and your calming peace in 2017….let us look through the lens together and see nothing but awe-inspiring beauty in the year to come.

Let us get out of the grind and into the moment!

Thanks, God, for an amazing year, for getting us through 2016 and delivering us to the doorstep of 2017. Thank You for all the things You’ve shown us and taught us. 

And most of all, for all the gifts, promise and beauty surrounding our lives. May we never get caught up in the grind and always see each moment of each day as a “present” from You. 

This tiny fellow stared me down a few moments ago. I was finishing mopping the floors and had the kitchen door open to welcome the warm afternoon breeze to help dry the floors. He just hovered and dared me to linger long enough to snap this shot:

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He was kind of big as bees come, yet still so tiny compared to me and my kitchen door.

So why did my heart race when he menacingly remained hovering at eye level to me, unlike most bees? And why did I jump when he lunged toward my camera?

How great a physical and psychological response some of the tiniest of things create! What power we give to tiny things!

What kinds of tiny things do you make mountains from and allow to control you?

And are there other tiny things we ignore which really require greater attention?

Hey God, thank You for the tiny things that get our attention…please help us to discern if these things are meant to take up a tiny part of our energy – like what table linens and crystal to choose for the Thanksgiving dinner table…

…Or if it’s one of those tiny things that we tend to dismiss that actually deserves greater attention – like not realizing that the neighbor or friend who appears to have it all together, may not have the resources this year to even buy a turkey for their family.

Let us, when we feel tiny, stare down the mountains in our path and know that we can move them if we try.

Let us, when we encounter the seemingly tiniest of things, take a moment to consider how great they are in their own right.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the persecuted, the peacemakers! Bless the tiny things, Lord…

*****

Buzzy buzzy, honey bee
Buzzing, staring, right at me

Why’d you pick my kitchen door
To visit me once I’d cleaned my floor?

Tiny, small, you do appear
Yet large must be your bee career

If I could only follow you,
I’d see much greater credit due

For though I’m bigger than a bee,
Your job is bigger than I see

My big fat problems can’t compare
To those in need with nought to spare

So help me, God, to clearly see
The greatness in this tiny bee.

 

WPC: Transmogrify

There has been a bit of Transmogrification going on in my town as Halloween approaches…

Our neighbor and his dogs were mysteriously transmogrified overnight:


Then our town was transmogrified into a witch’s coven and they jammed the streets on a bike ride, brooms on board:

Courtesy al.com

Witch-Madonna!


 

Not to be left out, our beloved town’s waterfront fountain transmogrified from crimson to sapphire, almost overnight:


On my morning walk today, I found a fruit-bearing sago palm was transmogrified into a banana spider’s lair:

Lastly, a tiny seed, over the summer, transmogrified into a beautiful, soft blossom of cotton, across the road from our house:


Abracadabra! 

Hocus pocus, you’re a bat!!


Thank You, God, for transformations. We are the clay, You are the Potter. Thank You for metamorphosis and for all things changed and different. Change is challenging, but it beats stagnation any day. Please give us grace and wisdom in the face of change.

God, please help us to be aware of when it’s time to change, give us the courage to go forth and to endure the process…knowing that we will be blessed, one way or another, by the transformation. 

And, if I may be so petty, please grant our Cubs a miracle.