2017: Joy in Weathered Space


November 2011

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.” ― Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

When I started this blog in 2011 I had no idea what I was doing. But I had a lot of things going on in life. A lot of sadness. Not due to anything done to me personally. But a lot of circumstances affecting my dearest loved ones and, I guess you could say, the way I hurt for them and tried to help them resulted in my own deep, deep sadness. Hence, I started to write.

December 2011

Every year some new tragic circumstance hit. Numerous things. Fractured relationships, unusual illness, untimely deaths, even a destructive tornado I found myself right in the middle of.

May 2013

Loss, loss, loss. Each year I prayed for quiet and each year the tsunami’s came. And all this is just a fraction of everything.

January 2012

So I created SimplySage. I needed a “happy place”. A place to find joy in the midst of all the sadness surrounding me. Combined with faith and some good friends, I found an additional place of solace here. And I poured out myself to pull out joys in my everyday surroundings. Simple things, really.


February 2012

And as I looked around my eyes opened to ways that nature mirrors some of the sad times. Then, a long-buried hobby of photography revived. And suddenly I found solace in all the beauty that surrounded me. It was as if God opened my eyes to metaphors in nature. Like the one above. In the dead of winter, there bloomed brilliant orange. Wonders like these carried me to indescribable dimensions. Many of them I could not capture. A photo could never do them justice. All I could do was stand in awe.


March 2012

But I wrote and wrote and wrote. And the storms kept coming. And each year I’d wonder “what next?”


April 2012

Then 2017 hit. And guess what. It was a good year. Actually, an amazingly wonderful year. Yes, the bumps and nicks still came but it seemed to be nothing that absolutely cut you to the heart. And there was a lot of love and joy in 2017. Blessings beyond imagination! Laughter returned and filled every part of my life.

But something else happened.


May 2012

I kinda quit writing.

I guess in all the joy and laughter I was just soaking it all up, And I just kept doing that. Soaking it all in. It was, in a sense, a healing balm to me. Yes, there are some scars left from all the troubled years. Some sadness still trickles in as I ponder all the pain. But I guess I needed a break. To just rest in all of it.


June 2012

It was all so wonderful.

I could sit here and wish and hope for another year like 2017. But there may never be a year like that again. And if there’s not, a few big lessons stay with me as the storms blow in. Here are just a few:

  • There is no one like the Lord, God of heaven and earth, whom you can cry out to from your heart every minute of the day.
  • There is nothing like the comfort and truth in His Holy Word, the Bible.
  • There is nothing like His marvelous creation.
  • There is nothing like a few close, loving friends, and family.
  • Deep down, people are fragile, and are fighting battles within and without. It’s important to understand why they act like they do; and still be kind.
  • There is nothing like the kisses and hugs and sounds of children.
  • There is nothing like gratitude for so many things we take for granted.
  • There is nothing like a nutritious healthy meal and a good, silent walk.
  • Joy can be found anywhere, anytime. All one needs to do it look for it; and be still enough to enjoy it.

As to writing and this blog? Of course, I will continue! Not making any promises, but I will be here. I thank you, my community of readers, for being here. I don’t take your visits lightly. I don’t equate you in terms of “traffic, stats, or bots”. You are friends. And a part of the joy in all the pain.  I welcome you always.


2017, Best Photo

And as for 2017, for now I say, farewell.  I will never forget you.

Peace,
Alexandria


Weekly Photo Challenges:

Weathered

2017 Favorites

 

Advertisements

Two Celebrations (featuring Guest Author, Steve)

Today there were two expectant parents awaiting the arrival of their son.
They both longed to see him. They have three other children and this will be the last. It will complete the family. What a blessing! Their love for him began at conception and for too long they had waited.  He had to mature, it had to be his time, and finally the day had arrived.

dMy father died today.

In the blink of an eye he walked into the gates of heaven into the loving arms of his parents, his siblings, a host of aunts and uncles, and even a granddaughter all waiting to see him. He was literally born again. I’m sure my grandparents couldn’t wait to see him. I expect the anticipation is a lot like the day of his earthly birth.

Was Blind But Now I SeeOur perspective changes based upon our vantage point.
In sports, two people in different parts of an arena can see the same play and come to a different conclusion. To one, with their viewpoint and biases the player clearly scored. To another spectator with their own biases and a different vantage point, the goal was stopped. Both would swear to the correctness of their report.

Only one is correct.

CSo I suspect it is with death.

To those of us left behind, we call it death. It is a terrible separation that rips our loved one from us. We are left with that tremendous empty sensation that has no earthly solution. In contrast, to those in heaven it is a day of rejoicing as their loved one finally “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God” (January 28, 1986 | President Ronald Reagan). The interpretation of the event is again controlled by ones perspective and vantage point.

Ultimately, the biggest perspective difference is our understanding of what happens to us after death.

It changes everything.

To those who believe that life ends here, death must hold a level of emptiness and pain that I cannot comprehend. For those like me who live in the hope of life eternal, death and its associated separation has less pain. This hope comes with the promise of reunion. Yes, we must endure separation, but ultimately there will be reunion.

SIn 2 Samuel 12:23, King David comments on the death of his son. He says: “But now he has died. Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” King David lived in the promise of life eternal as I do.

Although my father will not return to me, I will go to him and I look forward to our reunion. I suspect for my parents, my earthly death will look like birth from their new vantage point. So when you think about birth and death, unless you precede them in the latter, your parents celebrate both.

Ponder that a bit. It is truly wondrous.

Thoughtfully,
Steve

I Corinthians 15:19 “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”


Recommended reading:
I Corinthians 15  The Holy Bible, Paul the Apostle
Everyone’s Back Home Once Again, bywordsthatlastforever
The Best Christmas Gifts, by Just Behind the Door
Anticipation: The Art of Mourning, by Pilgrim Out of the Water

Family | The Forever Constant

Standing Firm

“Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”

1-DSC_0096“In different hours, a man represents each of several of his ancestors, as if there were seven or eight of us rolled up in each man’s skin,—seven or eight ancestors at least, and they constitute the variety of notes for that new piece of music which his life is.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

image

“Family quarrels have a total bitterness unmatched by others.  Yet it sometimes happens that they also have a kind of tang, a pleasantness beneath the unpleasantness, based on the tacit understanding that this is not for keeps;

1-DSC_0095 that any limb you climb out on will still be there later for you to climb back.”  ~ Mignon McLaughlin

1-DSC_0077

“The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste,

image

coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, 

d

and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.”  ~ Erma Bombeck

As I contemplated the Weekly Photo Challenge theme “Family” I could’ve shared oodles of family photos and memories. However, my fascination for the constant lessons of nature prompted me to use this tree I drive by nearly every day. It’s one of those anomalies of nature you just can’t miss.

Sometimes I take pictures, but other times I just stop, get under it, gaze at its never-ending branches, and admire its breathtaking beauty. But more than that, I admire it’s sheer strength. And if you notice, it’s even a bit lopsided. Its shape is not perfect and to tell you the truth, I’m relieved. It makes me feel more at home. But the tree is massive, solid, stately, so proud–you just have to see it to believe it.

It’s main “branches” are not the usual bending, thinner limbs of a tree. They are the size of trunks, which could be trees in and of themselves. Note the photo in full summer leaf above–it easily shades the entire width of the road and more. But notice the photo of it in barren winter (below). That’s when you really see the way it’s limbs anchor the whole.

I’ve tried to capture it with a camera as best as I can and if you look at its new white fence nearby, perhaps you can get a bit of perspective. It’s probably been there since the Revolutionary War.

I wonder how many generations have passed this tree in its lifetime.

1-DSC_0097

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. The sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1: 4,5

I’ve driven past it in sun, storm, snow, and treacherous winds. Sometimes I’ve wondered if it would survive some of the worst storms. But it’s always there. It possesses a strength unfathomable and survives untouched and unscathed through it all.

I wish I could say the same about myself. 

I try to remind myself that I’m but one of the smaller branches near the ends, still being tested and tried. And that massive, huge trunk at the base is holding on to me.

And believe me, I’m hanging onto it for dear life.

image“Do not remove the ancient landmark that your ancestors set up.” ~ The Bible Proverbs 22:28

Family–the forever constant, stamped indelible. May we branch out high and wear it proud. But when we hit those storms that threaten to snap us away, may we return to the open, loving limbs of home–the place of constants—love, acceptance, shelter, safety, sanity (or a bit of a necessary dose of insanity!).

d

“Some family trees have beautiful leaves, and some have just a bunch of nuts. Remember, it is the nuts that make the tree worth shaking.” ~Author Unknown

Family–the forever constant.
The place where you breathe in the comfort and exhale a long sigh,

“Ahhh … there’s no place like home.”

image

“The family – that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.” ~Dodie Smith

The Lesser Light|One Favorite Subject

image185

“And the sun and the moon sometimes argue over who will tuck me in at night. If you think I am having more fun than anyone on this planet, you are absolutely correct.” ~ Hafez

The theme of the Weekly Photo Challenge is “One”, in which we are to focus on one subject. I chose one of my favorites, the ever elusive moon. In photography light is everything and for outdoor photography the light source is usually the sun. We look for certain times of day, angles, cloud cover, or clear. And the sun takes it from there. In fact, when you combine the best of these factors the sun really does all the work for you. Think sunsets and sunrise, the Golden Hour. An endless array of colors provide astounding results. No skills needed.

Vague Thoughts nearfar2

“The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.” ~ Carl Sandburg

But the moon is a different challenge altogether. For a great moon shot you have to really work at it. Photographers go through great lengths to capture the immediate presence and stunning glow the moon provides. Even then it is hard to capture the emotion of moment. You just have to “be there” and experience it for yourself.

FullMoon

“The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.” ~ Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

In the Bible the moon is called the “lesser light” (Genesis 1:16). It is too dim for cameras to mimic exactness, but for the human eye it holds not just brilliant beauty but deep, deep emotion. For some unexplainable reason the moon feels like a faithful friend. It provokes us to stop, quiet our busy minds, take a few deeps breaths and just relax. I don’t know of anyone that can gaze at a brilliant moonlit night and not feel a simultaneous sense of glory and comfort.

IMG_2834B

Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy. ~ Henri Frederic Amiel

Perhaps it is the lesser light because of this very thing. We need a constant, unchanging reminder that we are not alone, that there is greatness and majesty tucked in our universe. A reminder of the presence of God through every dark night. And that is this lesser light.

image

The lesser light may take second place to the other grand luminary. But perhaps it is this very notion that makes it so human. And in this sense we see that our great God, by giving less, actually gave more.

Peace, Alexandria

N “But even when the moon looks like it’s waning…it’s actually never changing shape. Don’t ever forget that.” ~ Ai Yazawa

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Related Articles:
Wenjie Zhang of LightSlant on how to photograph the moon
Weekly Photo Challenge: The Power of One, Travels and Trifles by Tina Schell
Clicky Chick Creates, Christmas Favorites

Thanksgiving Wish

DSC_1314Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

DSC_1330
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 

DSC_1323Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is error, truth; 

DSC_1280Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy.

DSC_1320O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love.

DSC_1047-001For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
~ prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assissi

DSC_1352-001This is my grown-up Thanksgiving Wish. How about you?
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Peace, Alexandria

%d bloggers like this: