Happy Birthday, USA. It’s Time to Shine!

1-10259236_10153515755787925_696162760111206077_o“Fireworks had for her a direct and magical appeal.  Their attraction was more complex than that of any other form of art.

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They had pattern and sequence, colour and sound, brilliance and mobility; they had suspense, surprise, and a faint hint of danger;

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above all, they had the supreme quality of transience, which puts the keenest edge on beauty and makes it touch some spring in the heart which more enduring excellences cannot reach.” ― Jan StrutherMrs. Miniver

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Yep, that quote would be me. Next to Christmas, the Fourth of July is my absolute favorite holiday. First of all, I love fireworks. Period. But I also love the way it draws my nation together. We have a complex history and a lot of problems, yes. But there is and there never has been a country like ours. Most of us learn and grow from our nation’s mistakes. Though very diverse, there is one thing of which we are in solid agreement: America is great.

If you’ve never visited you won’t understand. And if you live and grew up here, it’s so easy to take for granted. Think about it. In the history of nations, never has a country had freedom and prosperity like ours. Never has a country cared for the world like ours. Never has there been an economy like ours.

I don’t blame anyone for leaving their country of origin to come here. Many go through great peril and cost to do that. As a citizen, I just ask a few things. Please follow our laws and do whatever is necessary to become a citizen. Be honest. Work hard. And learn our history. Take a Civics class to learn how our government works. Be educated on our current events.

Don’t believe everything you read in the media. Investigate the facts. In other words, become a well-informed citizen and think for yourself. Don’t let anyone “spoon-feed” you. America will offer you and your children the best life they could ever have. And don’t ever take that for granted. I don’t know any American that does not welcome you if you do this.

Now, onto the fireworks! I cannot close without drawing attention to these photographs posted on Dan Pope’s Facebook page.  He is a real top-notch photographer and friend of our family and I’ve featured him before. His link is on my sidebar. Dan is a fireworks nut like me. He captured these Friday night. And of all things, he caught this last one with a train rolling through. Nicely done, Dan!

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In closing, I’m posting this link to a  video of the Katy Perry song “Firework”, still an all-time favorite of mine on our Fourth of July. I think the words capture the human spirit quite well.

Shine everyday because–baby, you’re a firework!

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Love, With a Twist

Morning Walk

When you look at me
What do you see?
Branches random,
Unchosen tandem?
Nothing clever.

Morning Hug

Space distress
Of leaves and mess?
Unlike attraction,
More like distraction!
Whatever!

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Why on earth,
of all the space,
Did God place
you here?
Wish you could just leave,
Whenever!

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But we are stuck.
Like glue, we are stuck!
Perhaps a wind may unabate
And maybe we can separate!
Forever!!

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I am strong
Without you.
I don’t need you.
Never
Will I need you,
Whatsoever.

{And so the big wind
It did come.
And so it did come unabate.
But it did more than separate.}

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Oh nooo!!! Hold tight!!!
Don’t let go!!!!
Please,
Don’t let go.
And don’t go.
Stay.
And don’t go away

Ever!!!

Ever

“Love lives in the myriad of imperfection and thrives because of its ability to prevail despite its inability to prevail perfectly.” ~ Alexandria Sage


Weekly Photo Challenge Theme: Twist  I hope you enjoyed my twisted poetry. 🙂 Peace, Alexandria


Other favorites:

Thanksgiving Wish

DSC_1314Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

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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

The Master Speaks | Masterpiece: Eye of the Beholder

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“A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

No thoughts nor words. Chills. I stood frozen, trying to maintain composure. I stifled a choked lump in my throat, but I couldn’t stop the tears that filled my eyes, then meandered down my cheeks.

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“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” ~ Michelangelo

Still freshly astonished at churches, ancient structures, the Vatican Museum, and Sistine Chapel, I expected more of the same. But nothing prepared me as I stepped through the door of St. Peter’s Basilica. So unexpected. Unimaginable. My breath escaped, and I filled with wonder, How could anyone create beauty of such magnitude? And who were these creators? Even more, why?

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This was greatness of another dimension. For a few moments I became wordless, thoughtless. Then the vacuum that occupied my mind and heart at that moment became filled with a tenderness, a sweet gentility, a touch. A touch of … love.

But it was love unleashed.

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“All the masterpieces of art contain both light and shadow. A happy life is not one filled with only sunshine, but one which uses both light and shadow to produce beauty.” ~ Billy Graham

Grand, spacious love in a pinnacle masterpiece. Love that was enough … for everyone. You could see love–painted, sculpted, flowing, flourishing in every square inch of rock solid marble. But why? The question haunted.

These were masters of another kind.

Rome Day 3 262“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

I know the history behind the excesses of some of the pope’s as well as how artist’s squabble.  But these artist’s stretched above and beyond any earthly demands or human frailty to something deeper. Isn’t it like God to use imperfect people to magnify Himself? Perhaps even they didn’t understand why. They just unleashed it all.

Rome Day 3 260And this timeless structure was like a soul connection to God Himself—a love intent on touching earth with heaven. They were light-years ahead of their time–visionaries. Could they envision me standing there today, losing my breath, tears streaming down my face, asking the question, “Why?”

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“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” ~ Michelangelo

This place was elegant, tasteful, immense, grandiose. As the earth spun gracefully around the sun, the beams cast changing rays in a delightful show of light and shadow. Science and art merged to exquisite perfection. Intentional. This was no cold stone ancient relic.

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It was soft, warm, alive … welcoming. It was as if every stroke, cut, and design were destined way into the future. For today. For everyone. For this day. For me.

DSC00318The place was filled with people, families, children and babies, but there was a hush, a reverence. An awe. All eyes looked up. For in the confines of walls, these masters harnessed but a small glimpse of the Master of all.

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And I, an honored guest, could hear His voice, whispering soft. “Welcome. Come in. Just enjoy.”

“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all come.” ~ Michelangelo
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All photography {except #9 (that’s mine with a Cybershot)} is by Dan Pope of Precise Photography, based in Arlington, Texas. These photos are completely unedited, with exception of cropping Pietà, of which no one can get that close enough to photograph. See Dan’s website and browse a few of his Galleries for a phenomenal portfolio. My husband and I enjoyed a trip to Rome with the Pope’s as we both celebrated anniversaries. Dan has a big heart and an engaging sense of humor and makes friends with everyone he meets, including the Swiss Guard! He teased about how “the Pope” had come to visit Rome. Good thing Italians have a great sense of humor.

Peace, Alexandria

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” ~ John Ruskin
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Some of my favorites on this Challenge:

Sejeong Production
Postcard Photo
Blessings Through Raindrops
Chronicles of Illusion

Am submitting this as well to the Work of Art Photo Challenge from June 2014

Nature’s Usual Pose | Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

The Life of Less

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

The Climb

“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

It's a Bug's Life

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow them.” ~ Louisa May Alcott

Aspire

Man cannot aspire if he looks down. If he rise, he must look up.” ~ Samuel Smiles

The Sign of Heaven

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Heaven's Promise“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
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Here are other interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme of “Up”.

Foundation for Renewal

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.

The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,


The crownless again shall be king.”


~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Peace, Alexandria

This was my entry for the WordPress
Weekly Photo Challenge. The theme is Renewal. See other entries
here. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/weekly-photo-challenge-renewal/

Legacy of Joy

Sony Cyber-Shot. Self-portrait in front of a mirror. {Ok, WordPress, I’m trying.}

My dear readers,

WordPress asked all bloggers to write a post about what inspires us to blog. They wanted photos of us doing those activities. At first I was hesitant. I am far more comfortable behind a camera than in front of it. The other hesitation is my wish to maintain a measure of privacy. I confess the global world of blogging still intimidates me. But I will do my best to strike a balance with both.

WordPress encourages us to write and click. To write about EVERYTHING. To take pictures of EVERYTHING. I’m not a great writer but I love words in the form of quotes, with a dab of writing here and there. I love words that resonate healing, words that echo affirmation in the soul, words that bring joy.

I add photography and sometimes if I get lucky the pictures seem to coordinate with the quotes. Total creative fun.

Capturing another glorious sunset using the amazing iPhone camera. HDR settings, of course.

Capturing another glorious sunset with an iPhone.

Why do I blog? The biggest reason is my family—past, present, and future. And second, the multitude of friends throughout the years that have enriched my life, which now include you. I’m inspired by what makes me smile, that gives me a break in this hectic wild ride we call life and just inhale some gladness. I share to decrease sadness and increase joy … for everyone.

In addition, I hope to preserve a place that leaves words and pictures of my faith, footsteps, philosophy, and focus. WordPress says don’t hold back. But if I didn’t this would be a book. So here goes—in the most succinct I can be.

My mom and dad, both in heaven. Dad—the kindest, most generous man on the planet. Mom—organized, thrifty, clean. Together they gave me the best upbringing one could imagine. I miss them terribly. They were taken so soon. This blog honors their memory.

Wedding of my parents.

My parent’s wedding

My sweet grandmother. You lived two doors down from me. How could I ever forget the overnights and morning tea? Jumping on your bed and nighttime prayers? Your fluffy, down pillows? Your gift of sewing. You designed and made all the bridesmaid and flower girl dresses in the photo above. My family says I’m so much like you and I think that’s pretty cool.

My siblings. Amid the rivalry we emerged strong and united to this day. If I needed you at my side today, you would be there. {Dear brother, I’ll never forget when you drove cross-country to bring my Christmas presents.} In losing our parents so soon maybe we don’t take for granted the gift of each other.

Me peeking around for some candid shots at a family event. {Nikon D60 DSLR}

My husband. Wise, smart, funny, kind, philosopher, wizard. You give to everyone the most prized of possessions—your time. Cares for and watches over me with tenderness, patience, and love. Comes to my rescue for everything. Pulls over at a moment’s notice to let me capture another exquisite never-to-be-seen shot. Keeps my gas tank full. So much like my dad.

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Taking me up the hill the easy way, after a long sled ride down.

My children. Joy beyond belief. Each finding your way. Each blessed with kind and generous hearts. I know without a doubt that whatever path you choose, it will be done with the highest integrity. Where do I even begin?

A summer job for oldest daughter. She loved it {farm girl}

A summer job for oldest daughter. {Farm girl}

My grandson—I delight in this crazy notion called “grandparent love”. It is wondrous and enchanting. He is a ray of sunshine in my life.

The grand having a grand time in the mud.

The grand having a grand time in the mud.

My life-long faraway friends. Glenda, Debbie, Janna, Mary Beth, Peggy, Nancy, Lisa. We just pick up from where we left off.

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Morning coffee on the back porch with a friend

My near friends. When I moved here you soothed my homesickness and the pain in losing my mother shortly after my arrival. We share the deepest parts of our lives, the heartaches and joys. You know who you are and I love the richness and trust we share.

My very shy friend. Yes, she's under there!

My very shy friend. Yes, she’s under the umbrella!

The day job. I work with exceptionally talented people in a very narrow field of medicine. I was stretched to learn a most demanding skill and with tenacity and a lot of prayer I did. And I get to do some really neat stuff that cares for very sick patients. Witnessed a few miracles, too. Every time I walk across the parking lot to begin my day I thank God for my legs and that I get to do what I do. At the end of the day I get to leave and go home. Those who are sick have to stay and wish they could go home.

Steve's stuff. He taught me how to use these—not easy.

Stuff I use at the Day Job—not easy to learn.

God. Sunrises, sunsets, flowers, nature bursting forth with color, light, and wonder. Majestic painter and creator you are. You are a very present help in time of need. Your Word, living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword guides me. Apart from you I can do nothing.

Winter sunset out my backdoor. Hand painted by God. Incredible.

Winter sunset out my backdoor. Hand painted by God. Incredible.

And this is just the introduction to my inspiration for the wonderful world of blogging. It’s a peek into my life “in focus”—behind the camera, behind the words. Relationships are my greatest inspiration. And these are but a few. Blogging is a place where I can sort of “hang my heart” in honor of all of them.
As I press on may I leave a legacy of joy.
Peace,
Alexandria

I

This is just a photo-op. Serious photographers know you can’t take a picture of the moon without a tripod and special lens. I’m posing with the Nikon D60 with stock lens. Like I said, a photo-op to show me taking a picture. It was a beautiful backdrop, full moon rising. One of these days …

All photos taken with Nikon D60 DSLR with AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G lens, Sony Cyber-Shot, or iPhone. Photos of me were taken by my family, except the first—taken by me. 🙂

Other interpretations of the Challenge and related articles:

Thanksgiving Reflections

“Before you go out into the world, wash your face in the clear crystal of praise. Bury each yesterday in the fine linen and spices of thankfulness.”

~ Charles Spurgeon

“The man who has forgotten to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

“Every breath is a battle between grudgery and gratitude.
Give thanks…and you win joy.”

~ Ann Voskamp

“O God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry.
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless.
When I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all.

When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer.
And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency, bestir my compassion,

And be concerned enough to help—by word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen.” ~ Samuel F. Pugh

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.
Peace,
Alexandria

Related articles

Weekly Photo Challenge | Silhouette

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “Silhouette”. Some of you  have seen this already. Forgive me for reposting as I now realize WordPress wants a current post rather than a revision of a previous.

This photo is of a sunset I took in February. Winter is my least favorite season but sunsets like these provide rich arrays of color to remind me that all seasons possess their own beauty. The bare branches allowed a view of the sunset not possible in warm seasons. The crisp air and humidity with slight cloud cover allowed a mixture of hues that danced their way into evening sleep. The graceful curves of the tree branches wove a beautiful pattern as if adorning the sky in a great big hug.

These reminders make the barren season bearable when I am impatient for spring. This one is worth clicking on for a larger view.

Enjoy … again.
Peace,
Alexandria

Here is the Weekly Photo Challenge link for “Silhouette”
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/weekly-photo-challenge-silhouette/

Other interpretations:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/weekly-photo-challenge-silhouette/
http://hamburgundmeehr.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/weekly-photo-challenge-silhouette/
http://ayearinmyshoes.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/wordpress-photos-challenge-silhouette/

I am entering this as my “best shot of 2012” on the following site:http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/your-best-shot-2012/

A Sliver of Joy | Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

A favorite hang-out | Pink fountain for a good cause. Cheery mums galore.

Favorite weather | Autumn hints, cleansing rain, cloud-break.
Lingering mist.

Favorite time | Post-breakfast desertion. Kids safe at school. Sigh …….

A slice of time,
A shy, favored friend.
A Sliver of Happy.

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
~ Joseph Campbell

“A friend is one to whom you may pour out all the contents of your heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” ~ Unknown

“Find the joy in your life. Laugh hard, laugh long, and laugh loud. There is something that brings joy to each of us. Find out what it is for you and work hard to get more of it.” ~ Stephen Deal

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Referring articles:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/weekly-photo-challenge-happy/
vimeo.com/stevedeal
(Twenty minutes on decreasing sadness, increasing joy)
https://thoughtfulpaper.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/weekly-photo-challenge-happy/

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