Wild, Reckless Reclamation

Chalk Talk
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Doesn’t it seem children have an insatiable desire to create? And don’t they provide continual delight with constant surprises of that creative urge? I can’t think of a better way to adorn a porch than with chalk.

Art in a Box
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~ 
Pablo Picasso

We smile and laugh. We are captivated. Enchanted.

But deep within lies a simultaneous lament, an angst that pains the delight. We look bare-faced at ourselves and realize we don’t do art like children do. We don’t dream like that. The gradual progression of life pushed and pushed, and the weight of the world gradually nudged out the child. And the dreams? Well, they drowned in the cares of life, swirled in a whirlpool down the drain.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton

Creativity was meant to feed our dreams throughout life, from childhood to old age. To create an idea, to create vision, then to sing, to draw, to write, paint, build … heal. Yes, to heal. For heaven’s sake, is it not the function and privilege of art to nourish our souls, to rekindle a chord of tenderness in our heart, to keep us dreaming? To keep a continual cycle of dreaming, creating, healing.  To keep us … intact.

“The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. ~ C.S. Lewis

Children are risky and lavish as they create. They are not gripped with insecurity, fear, or hesitation that bounds we adults. Why are we?

A great-grandpa that knows how to stay a child and builds something delightful.

“Creativity takes courage.” ~ Henri Matisse

Should we not reclaim the artist within? As grown-ups isn’t it strange how we must be intentional this time because we have lost our natural inclination to do so? It seems the art of creating and reclaiming our childlike wonder has now become an art in and of itself. An almost lost art. Think of how we “pencil it in our schedule”. But it is so worth the effort, no matter how small.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” ~ Pablo Picasso

After all, our Creator has the same insatiable desire. Look at the intricate beauty He presents to us everyday, everywhere—the art of heaven. We do well to imitate Him.

And chalk is a great place to start. 🙂
Peace, Alexandria


Travels and Trifles, Lens Artist Challenge #48 “Wild”

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November, Gift of Light

DSC_1228“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring.” ~P.D. James

DSC_1118“I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tones mellower, its colors richer, 

DSC_1102and it is tinged a little with sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer,

DSC_1057but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitation’s of life and is content.” ~Lin Yutang

DSC_1095“The human soul is slow to discover the real excellence of things given to us by a bountiful Creator, and not until the shadows of death begin to gather around the object that we love, do we see its worth and beauty. 

DSC_1069Autumn is the dim shadow that clusters about the sweet, precious things that God has created in the realm of nature.While it robs them of life, it tears away the veil and reveals the golden gem of beauty and sweetness.

DSC_1103Beauty lurks in all the dim old aisles of nature, and we discover it at last.” ~ Northern Advocate

DSC_1154“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” ~ John Burroughs
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Another autumn nears its end. These very brief, fleeting days find me outside more than any other time of the year. The colors are just breathtaking and I constantly fight this irresistible urge to try to capture the breadth, length, and height of it. As we know, it’s an impossibility. I know autumn means to contemplate, absorb, and enjoy the richness of  its beauty. It’s also a time of remembrance as the year draws to a close and we look back.

Autumn is such a paradox. Brilliant, glimmering. But it is truly a descent into decay and ultimately … death. It is, in essence, a progression into loss. Just like autumn, we’ve all experienced loss in some fashion this year. Perhaps God fashioned autumn so brilliant just so we could see some sort of beauty in loss. But the journey of loss always holds gain as God brings something new to replace what we lost. We won’t know what it is until we look to Him in faith and ask.

As the leaves fall, shrivel, and die some things in our lives must do the same. I’ve endured a couple of deep, unexpected losses this year. As I grieve I look to God and the glorious creation He surrounds me with and try to grasp the new blessings in my life. Just as the inclination is strong to hold and capture every photo of autumn, I cling tight to what is no more. And I have to ask God for even the faith to believe there is something better. There always is. The truth stamped in autumn tells me so.  That though the days are long and dark, that light will return, brighter than bright. Tells me there is spring.

And it’s not too far from now.

Peace, Alexandria


This is my contribution to the new Lens Artists group, which has a new theme every week. It’s been a busy year, hence, quite some time since I’ve blogged. But I hope to participate in this, since it saddened me greatly that WordPress quit it’s Weekly Photo Challenge. I’m so thankful for these few photographers who’ve continued this trend! Thank you, Tina and Amy! (I think there is one more but I can’t remember the name. Sorry!) 🙂

Share and Connect
Travels and Trifles

Once, We Were Young

“Two golden hours somewhere between sunrise and sunset. Both are set with 60 diamond minutes.” ~ Horace Mann

As another autumn (and another birthday) are upon me, and as I face the daily blows of life, this is always a time of reflection of who I am, where I’ve been, and how I am to face my next year of life. 

I finish the year attending to important deadlines and mail that piled up over summer. I try to stuff the idea of the holidays for now, as I’m just not quite ready. 

When I feel particularly burdened about something, I remember how easy it was when I was a child. And I yearn to go back there.

And it’s dawns on me how little of life is spent during those wondrous years.

What is it about being a child that’s so wonderful? The laughter, the chatter, the sheer delight of everything! Think of it. Their smiles, great big hugs, and very wet kisses! Their unconditional love. Their close bonds with family; aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents. The humor. Their innocence. Their nonsense! It’s all so magical and enchanting.

We were all children once. And then one day we woke up and began that rocky trip to adulthood called “adolescence”.

I remember that time. I was not ready at all and I didn’t want to let go. I distinctly remember the summer that spending untold hours in my best friend’s pool no longer captivated us. Instead, we started sitting around just “talking’ by the pool, rather than playing in the pool. I remember feeling so sad about that. My friend and I even discussed it because we didn’t understand why. It didn’t take long to figure it out. But still, we were very sad to see our carefree days slip away so fast.

And adulthood stayed; it never transitioned into another stage. For me, it swiftly outlived its welcome.

Plus, I discovered that we are adults for the majority of our life. And we are adults the rest of our lives. As we constantly deal with the blows and stressors of the adult years, how much do we look back and long for those days as children?

Yes, at times we thought they were dreadful; like when mom and dad said no to candy. (What could be worse!) Or how we couldn’t trudge through the house after building a snowman. And vegetables … ugh! Those vegetables! As adults we laugh at the perplexity of those “problems”, don’t we?

It’s so short … childhood. And adulthood … it’s so long … and so serious.

The thought struck me about those two golden hours—how the sun gets to beam and glow, even finger-paint and watercolor—the sun gets to play just like a child. Everyday. For two solid hours! Morning and night.

I wish during those two hours—sunrise and sunset, that we could become children again, for real.

Just two hours! But can you imagine, just imagine, what would happen in this serious world of adulthood?

Think about it. In some places it would be absolutely hilarious; others, a complete disaster! No, we couldn’t do that, of course!

But at sunrise and again, at sunset, could we not use those times as markers to get our attention, to cultivate an hour to release the cares and seriousness of adult life. And just glow

Maybe we can’t just abandon our post in life to utter nonsense and irresponsibility. But maybe we can let go of life’s burdens for a bit. Maybe stop and just enjoy that golden hour, even for a little while. Smile. Laugh. Release ourselves inside, for a moment, to utter nonsense!

Like a child.

Once, we were young. Can we not be again?


Photo Credits: The spectacular orange Indonesian sunset goes to my friend and guest author, Stephen Deal. Probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Thank you, Steve!

Peace,
Alexandria

Still Friends After All These Years

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“To get the full value of joy you must find someone to divide it with.” ~ Mark Twain

Young Friends

“Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).

The Sea, One of our Favorite Spots

The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, What? You too? I thought I was the only one!

Together

… It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that friendship is born.

And instantly they stand together …

Two Solitudes

in an immense solitude.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves”

Missing You

“You are still my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

~ Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Soul Friends
“How we need another soul to cling to.” ~ Sylvia Plath


This is my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge.  The theme is “friend”. I chose to interpret it in a metaphoric manner. To encapsulate that word in one photo would be impossible for me. Where do I begin??

So this post is in honor of my own wonderful world of life-long friends; who’ve clung to my soul, despite all my quirks and failures, good times and trying times. Thank you. I love you. You are life’s greatest gifts.
Peace,
Alexandria


Credit to Stephanie Goddard for the first photo. Capturing these four friends mid-air with such clarity is a photographer’s dream. And Stephanie does it so well. How well I remember jumping off these very cliffs in my own life with friends such as these. For more of Stephanie’s fine work visit White Horse Photography  You will not be disappointed.

Curve Around the World

FullMoon

“There is something particularly special and personal about the circle and how its curves comfortable rule every aspect of our lives.” ~ Kat Kahr, Parallelism of Cyclicality

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In choosing photos for this week’s photo challenge with the theme  “Curve” I’m featuring some favorites from the past. They include photos by Dan Pope, Stephanie Goddard, Stephen Deal, and yours truly. I’d appreciate if you’d explore the links. It helps me as I test my new .live domain.
Thanks and do EnJoy. 🙂
Alexandria

Moorea

Be Thou the Rainbow
“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.” ~ Lord Byron

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

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 LoveSong
“Love moves in sync with the cadence of forgiveness, sings in tune with the melody of acceptance, and dances in rhythm with the music of companionship.” ~ Steve Maraboli

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Friendship Formulae
“To get the full value of joy you must find someone to divide it with.” ~ Mark Twain 

A Cupful of Friend

The Beauty of a True Friend
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” ~ Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

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LifeLines
“Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?” ~ Margot Fonteyn

Fragile, Handle With Care | Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

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“Words and hearts should be handled with care, for words misspoken and hearts when broken are the hardest things to repair.” ~ Unknown

Ever do this? Say something then feel the immediate twinge of regret? You wish, how you wish, you could somehow take them back. But they stick like glue. Sometimes they are just casual, oh so casual, “I didn’t really mean it.”

We utter them right off the top of our head, just because we need to talk–oh, how we need to talk,  to say something—oh, how we always need to be saying something.

Sometimes they are tinged with hints of sarcasm—just enough hint to hurt.

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Sometimes we lash out in anger. And that’s the worst kind—so far from kind.

And then there’s the so unkind kind that cuts … deep, sometimes scarring to permanence—like a car that’s been wrecked and declared totaled.  Total damage.

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If we would but look into the eyes, we would see the heart of each.

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But no, we shrug away, whispering, “So what.”

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Our culture actually takes pride in telling someone off. We hang on to the brash words of reality television and celebrate the celebrity spewing trash-talk. Bullying is a problem among our children. It’s like we celebrate hate.

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What have we become?

Yes, conflict is part and parcel of life. But my mother used to say “Fight nice.” The word hate was so repulsed it was never allowed in our home, under any circumstances. Not even an “I hate brocolli!” was permitted.

Words can build or destroy. Choose them wisely—choose to soothe, heal, protect, build.

Happy

Why not declare to say, today, words tinged with, dare I say, … love?

And if you have nothing to say, it’s perfectly okay to just say nothing.

“Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent.” ~Proverbs 17:28a

Spent, or Well-Spent?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Broken”. I chose to use the theme in the context of “words”, which can break and shatter as powerfully as they build and heal.

Our modern world is filled with an abundance of them. Sometimes even one sentence can wreak a force as destructive as a volcanic eruption. (Think Twitter with its mere 160 characters. It packs a powerful punch, doesn’t it?)

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Our WordPress community continues to be a safe haven for words, a place where thoughtful expression is wrapped in respect for everyone. I’ve found it to be thus far, and I hope it continues.

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“Let your speech be always with grace.” ~Colossians 4:6a

Peace,
Alexandria


For other interpretations of the Broken Challenge, I hope you’ll take some time and visit here. You’ll enjoy the endless creativity of WordPress photographers, both amateur and professional. Enjoy! 🙂

Locomotion| Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

Slushy FunMotion

MCommotion

MLocomotion

M“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” ~ Steve Maraboli


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of Motion. As you can see, a child is a perfect picture of never-ending motion … and locomotion … and commotion! All wrapped up into one!
EnJoy!
Alexandria

ShadowLands

Moon ShadowsMoon Shadows

Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of supreme importance
German FogSun Shadows

in perspective, because, without them opaque and solid bodies will be ill-defined;

1-IMG_2533Cinderella Shadows

That which is contained within their outlines and their boundaries themselves

1-IMG_7343(1)Snow Shadows

will be ill-understood unless they are shown against a background

dLong Shadows

of a different tone from themselves.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Morning WalkMe Shadow 🙂

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows fall behind you.” ~ Walt Whitman

Peace,
Alexandria

2014: So, What’s New?

image“It’s time to rise and shine. Wake up and make the day mine. In this brand new world. I’m at the starting line.” ~ Unknown

In these United States the main form of modern communication is now text or email. Being a culture on the mega-move, we’ve gradually resorted to a number of cliché’s to reduce wordy material or communicate big ideas in as few words as possible.

Our language is woven with phrases like “please summarize” and “just cut to the chase”, or “say it in a nutshell”. (Origin: Pliny tells us that Cicero asserts the whole Iliad was written on a piece of parchment which might be put into a nutshell.)

My personal favorite is the latest method of email to my manager: “Bullet points only, please.” I like that she adds “please”. 🙂

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This is what I see when I think “bullet points”. 🙂

But for someone like me, it’s all highly problematic. Words fill my mind from morning to night, desiring a written home. But time constraints wisp them away, gone forever. Plus, brevity must be accomplished lest I lose all you wonderful folks to the land of Rip Van Winkle!

I try to be brief but what’s a girl to do who can ping a life lesson from something so simple as a solitary tree? One glance and I’m off!

Lo, How We Age

“Oh, oh, oh I could write, from morning to night, words flood my brain, like torrents of rain, but minutes skip past, and they’re out with a blast, of wind-tossed aloft, and cannot be caught. But I do catch a few, to share here with you.” That’s from yours truly here. 🙂 See what I mean?

But my annual report arrived from WordPress. Total visits. Top posts. Countries. So, bullet points it is! Hence the title “What’s New?

First, what’s new is record-breaking traffic:

  • 15,000 views, up from 2013 and over twice the 2012 traffic.
  • Grand total: Nearly 39,000
  • 136 countries. Thank you very much for stopping by, whomever and wherever you are!imageimageTop Five Posts:image
  • 1. Christmas Reflections This holds first place since published in December 2012. It’s a personal favorite of mine and the starlight on the photos were a glorious accident with an iPhone lens that was probably smudged! Take a look and see what you think!I2. Thanksgiving Reflections Another post from 2012 and it remains at the number two spot since published.
    ThankfulnessBoth of these are ever popular during the holidays and can be found on the first page of Google and Yahoo search engines during the holidays. How do you suppose that happened??? I don’t rightly know but I’m not complaining!

So that “sums it up”, “in a nutshell”. 🙂

“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count my selfe a King of infinite space.”~ William Shakespeare

Farewell Fourteen!
Alexandria

On Top of the World!

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“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”  ~ G.K. Chesterton

Perched on the balcony I watched all day long. In the morning the boat arrived. The crew worked in a methodical manner to ready the day and after some time the gigantic rainbow sail would finally hoist. Then back and forth across clear blue ocean, sunlight glistening, they’d fly. A beautiful sight. Exhilarating. Peaceful.

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Determined to get away for a few days, our plan was to do nothing … sit on the balcony, stare at the sea, sleep, maybe read. So I lazily sat, sipping coffee, and enjoyed the view.  I brought the camera yet had no great ambition. But I couldn’t resist a few captures of the sight before me.

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Why not hone my telephoto skills a bit? They were a good distance and since doing nothing was pretty much the goal, I had nothing better to do. Zooming in, however, my interest piqued as I watched. I was taken aback at the skill and finesse of the crew, the size of the sail and cables, then how easy they make it look!

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“Flying without feathers is not easy; my wings have no feathers.”  ~Titus Maccius Plautus

I couldn’t help notice the grace with which they lifted off, one, two, three at a time. So rhythmic as the sail climbed higher, and higher. So high. Until …

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they were walking on top of the world!

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So the next day I handed the telephoto to my husband. Out the door I scrammed, leaving him a few instructions and Auto Mode. 🙂

Next thing I know …

1-1-DSC_0661-001“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.  And why shouldn’t it be? – it is the same the angels breathe.” ~Mark Twain

I’m not only on top of the world.

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“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.”  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I think I went higher!

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“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

So much for doing NOTHING!

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When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.  ~Leonardo Da Vinci 


Many “mahalo’s” to Randy, Mark, and the crew at Aloha Watersports in Cherry Grove, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They are an excellent parasailing crew, also offering banana boat rides, bicycle rental, and surf-related sports. You cannot find a better bunch of folks. Hospitality and professionalism all wrapped up into one. For a regular dose of beach photos and fun click here for their Facebook page. If you’re vacationing or in the area, give them a call! (843) 249-9908. You’ll be glad you did.

As you can see, I’m hooked! I suppose you could call it “love at first flight”. 🙂

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Randy with some young visitors.

1-148666_543429229096919_4779159421620850208_nCaptain Mark giving another beautiful ride.


Other adventure posts I liked:

ThreadsandTies
Far Out in Africa 3-2-1 Bungee!!
Invisible Horse

Moon Shadows and Silhouettes

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“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”  ~ Hilary Cooper

On a recent trip to the Smoky Mountains my husband woke me from a deep sleep to come look out the window. Both of us being somewhat “moon-chaser’s”, we are always dragging each other to the window when there’s a particularly eye-catching one. No matter how tired, neither of us can usually resist the urge to look.

“You might not want to miss that big yellow moon out there,” he tempted me. I sleepily thought to myself, Oh, stop–not tonight! I’m waaayyy too tired to drag the camera and tripod out. I’ll just get up and watch a minute and then drop back in the bed. And so I did. I peered out the window and he was right. I did not want to miss this. But, no pictures tonight. So I watched.

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But not for long.

Unsure if my brain could even function with settings, I quickly grabbed everything and headed out to the balcony. There before me against a silhouette backdrop of mountains, the yellow deepened. Hmmm … Suddenly I woke up! And “click, click, click” away I went. Then, to my sudden surprise, it turned a brilliant orange! As I clicked away for a few minutes another phenomenon happened.

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It turned deep RED!  Then, guess who was dragging the husband back out of bed! Mind you, this took place in a span of only twenty minutes.

It hung there for a just few minutes before the earth’s rotation took it behind the mountains. As I dropped back to bed, I thought to myself, Oh, that was so worth it! Even if I don’t get a good photo it was so amazing! As you can see, I managed a few and each captures the color as it progressed.  It was one of those that felt so close you could touch it!

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But you know what really made this for me? This is the second red moon I’ve seen this year. I saw the real “blood moon” back in February. No, I did not stay up and plan. I was on my usual commute to work and as I made my way over a big hill on our country road, it stole my breath at 5 am. I pulled over for about a minute with my phone.

It’s certainly not a technical masterpiece, but I think the color says it all!

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But with the most recent, what if I hadn’t taken the time? What if I dismissed it as “just another moon” and stayed in bed? Sometimes God has these little surprises for me and I miss them because I’m waiting for some “big thing”.

Isn’t that how life is? Aren’t we usually striving and looking for such big moments that we end up missing the momentary, smaller glories right in our midst? And mine are usually right in my backyard.

Sometimes I just need to keep my eyes open.

Peace,
Alexandria

The Grand Chase {aka Mom is “On the Move”}

DSC_3765 - Rest“There was never a child so lovely, but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “On The Move”. I can’t think of anything more on the move than a Mom.

Ava“You Are a Work of Art + You Are a Piece of Work = You are God’s Masterpiece.”
~ Alexandria Sage

So this Challenge is in honor of Mother’s Day.

Sheer Joy“How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

Those who’ve gone before us, those in our midst, and those mother’s to be;

Mother Loads of Love“Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together. ~ Pearl S. Buck

all the “other mothers”, who mother any baby or kid who crosses the threshold of their hearts;

First Held, First Glimpse“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” ~ George Eliot

and a special blessing to mother’s whose children preceded them in leaving this world too soon–may God wrap you in tender memories, grace, and comfort today.

Arms of Love“There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child – and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own.” ~ Robert Brault

Whether you chose to be a mother or if motherhood was handed to you, we all know the path is unpredictable. Nothing is guaranteed. But one thing always remains.

Katherine“A mother’s hug never really does let go. Her child is gathered in the arms of her heart at all times.” ~ Alexandria Sage

And that is our love.
Constant, unchanging, guaranteed.
And that is all you really need.

Peace, Alexandria


I received the following videos from my children. They brightened my day and made me smile. I hope they do the same for you. The links are below if you can’t open them here. EnJoy. 🙂


World’s Toughest Job
Here’s to Mom’s


Other interpretations of the “On The Move” Challenge. Give these a visit if you have a minute 🙂
Rynari
Minnesota Transplant
Gleaning the Nuggets
Sweet Capture Photography
Tea and Paper

EverSpring

The Vernal

“Everything is blooming most recklessly; it it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

After the darkest, frigid, snowiest, iciest winter I think I’ve ever endured, finally came the day when spring began its gradual, grand entrance.

Vernal

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~ Mark Twain

And it seems one of the most beautiful I can remember. The flowers are abundant, dripping in buds, and more colorful; the grass greener and lusher than I think I’ve seen in years.

Hanging Out

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” ~ Anne Bradstreet

And my soul mirrors the unfolding—my song called hope.

Together

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” ~ Virgil A. Kraft

I’ve endured many winters. But not just the season called “winter”. There’ve been other types of winter, winters more unbearable than the actual season. They are winters called “heartache”, “loss”, “tragedy”. And when you think about it, these winters can hit at any time.

Raise Me Up

“That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ,
And seeing gardens in the Spring I well can credit it.”
~ Winifred Mary Lett

Tragedy knows no season, no night, or day. Blustery winds and downpours rush in with no forecast, no warning. Blizzards can chill your heart any day, any time.

First Rose

First Rose of 2014

“The beautiful spring came; and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” ~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

But spring reminds us there is always hope, that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” {Lamentations 3:22-23}, and thatGod is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” {Psalm 46:1} and “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” {Isaiah 43:2} 

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So welcome spring with its promises of hope. Real hope springs from the Eternal One, and yes, it does take faith to turn to God. But He is the EverSpring that arrives in the midst of every winter. He really does show up.

Peace, Alexandria


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Spring”. Though some of my perennials did not survive, others returned with a force so powerful that each day takes my breath away. I’m out taking lots of photos so I’ll be sharing Spring with you the weeks to come, maybe into summer. 🙂

 

Inside the Yellow

The Smiling Cardinal

“A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” ~ Denis Waitley

I spotted the flickering blotch of red. Could it be? Squinting my eyes hard, I saw him! There he stood, outside the window, inside the yellow—a beautiful, blazing red cardinal.

Flicker of Red. Will you stay?

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

As February made way for March it arrived full-force as a roaring lion. The daffodils bloomed, then froze as temperatures plunged. Their icy petals drooped to the ground as if they wouldn’t survive.

Stay Inside the Yellow

“We are all alike, on the inside.” ~ Mark Twain

Peering out my window it was sad to see the cheery yellow blooms hunched over, bearing the last weight of winter, striving to usher in spring. How I look forward to their arrival every year! A sign that winter will soon be over.

While admiring their tenacity to overcome this harshest of winters, I spotted the bird. I’ve seen him before but he is usually gone before I can get the camera. This time I hoped he’d stay. And he did!

Inside Growth

“The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

From my distance I could barely make him out as that flower bed is a number of yards away. I’ve cropped the photos significantly because I thought his poses were so charming. Lack of clarity is sometimes exchanged for color and under these less-than-ideal circumstances I was grateful to capture anything close to resembling what I saw.

The Greatest Story Never Told

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

And I am happy to report that following this last blast of cold air, the daffodils prevailed. They raised their petals high again! {I’ll share those pictures in another post.}

I Like This Place!

But on this dreary winter day this lovely cardinal, inside the daffodils, brought a big smile to my face. I hope he does the same for you. 🙂
Peace, Alexandria

Happy Inside

“Happiness is an inside job.” ~William Arthur Ward

Me, My Selfie, and Someone Else

Me

When I first heard “selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” for 2013, it struck me as odd. I remember first hearing the word from my tween grand-niece. I grinned and shook my head. Young, beautiful, fit, self-absorbed. Yep, no surprise there. Typical tween.

But the word for the Weekly Photo Challenge? Really? Isn’t selfie reserved for the above? The last thing I want is my façade out there for the world to see! Family and friends is one thing. But the great big internet world? No way!

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You see, I am a grandmother. And has it escaped anyone’s notice the whole-hearted near-absence of grandmother selfies? Think about it. Can you really imagine a group of grandmothers taking selfies and plastering them all over the Internet?

I think it’s partly because we’re a bit more private. But let’s face it. Since most of us do not fit the above adjectives, we remain nearly absent on this self-portraiture that has taken the world by storm. (For heaven’s sake, even world leaders take selfies!)

But, the reality is the young are photogenic and few of us are. At least on the outside we are not. But please understand, we are totally okay with that. Though absent in the selfie realm, trust me—we are not absent.

We are most present. And extremely so.

And Someone Else

Perhaps, more so.

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“To get the full value of joy you must find someone to divide it with.” ~ Mark Twain


Related article:

The Christian Pundit: What a Christian Woman Knows About Beauty

 

Fleeting Objects of Affection

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Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting. ~ Unknown

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 If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. ~Tom Stoppard

 Did you know that childhood is the only time in our lives when insanity is not only permitted to us, but expected?  ~Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

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Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.  ~John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells

For this set of photos I invited my dear “like-a-daughter”, Emily Morgan, to share some photos of her children. I’ve known Emily since she was a baby. Her mother is one of my closest friends since college and we spent a good portion of life raising kids together.

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Emily blossomed into a loving mother of four adorable children (ages 6 and under!). She is also a talented photographer. She and husband, Andrew, have settled in Los Angeles, where Emily frequents the Pacific beach with these sweet little ones.

The beautiful photos above, captured in silhouette, drew my attention because they capture those fleeting moments of childhood. I’ll let Emily explain it in her own words.

“Hearing waves crash and children laugh are two of the best sounds in the world. The moment when your 6 year-old and the sunset collide and you happen to have your camera handy and are able to capture that fleeting moment to hold onto forever is truly special. The way I feel behind the lens of camera brings me to life, but the better gift is being able to hold onto that moment forever in a photograph.” ~ Emily Morgan

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I am convinced that God gave childhood, not as moments forgotten or pined for, but to recapture it in our adult years, much as a photograph captures. So we would not forget to live each day with childhood eyes and wonder, to view every moment with passion and exuberance.

But what happened as we grew out of those wonder years? As adulthood seeped in, it gradually pushed out that wonder and we became grown-ups. Pushed by life and all it’s demands, the wonder nudged back and for some it fell off into the throes of deadly cynicism.

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We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it. ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860
Maybe we can’t banter about as children every living moment of the day but can we not view each day with a semblance of wonder? And spend at least some moments of the day smiling, laughing, running, playing, even dancing?

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With what eyes do you see the ocean above? Are they hardened by life’s demands, unable to drink its beauty … old? Can you not see this vast ocean is but one landscape to keep you young and filled with wonder? To heal you of the cynicism, which robs you of life itself.

Let the waters spray you with healing. Climb those rocks and perch up there. Listen to the words of Emily and let yourself collide with the sunset. After all, it hasn’t moved.

But perhaps you have.

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Experience the healing wonder of childhood … everyday.

Peace, Alexandria
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After a hiatus of bearing these four little ones, Emily is resuming her photography. I invite you to view her  portfolio at www.emilymorgan.la
This is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the Theme “Object”. The ocean is the landscape and the silhouettes of children are the objects. True objects of affection. 🙂


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

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“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

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

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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, 

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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.

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“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!).

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“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.”

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

Bracing the Vortex | Through the Window

Cardinal Weathers the Storm

Sometimes you just need to bow your head, say a prayer and weather the storm.

As the polar vortex slipped over the United States, stores emptied shelves of nearly everything as residents braced for the bitter cold and blizzard conditions. But what about nature? How does nature brace for such a rare phenomenon? Are they caught by surprise, suddenly hapless and helpless, on the brink of consumption by the elements?Prayer Pose

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. ~ Abraham Lincoln 

My friend, Sonya, and her husband positioned their bird feeders right in front of their kitchen window so they could enjoy casual close-up bird watching. In the barrage of the storm, their observations unexpectedly turned beyond casual.  As the vortex hovered, Sonya grabbed her camera and captured these lovely creatures right in the midst of this horrendous storm. How would they fare? Would they survive? I think these stunning photos, taken through her window, need little explanation.

Together

A good friend can shield you from the storm. ~ Rhea Olsen

Observe them carefully. Look at their stance, their stillness, their resolve.

Together Again“Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.” ~ Socrates

As Sonya peered through her window, I’m sure she had an inclination to run out and rescue them. But alas, she could not. She provided food, then watched as they used the instinctual abilities God built within them. They were bound together and stood firm against this treacherous storm.

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Make note:  They did not make any attempt to separate from one another. They stood together.

Peace Could this be the same God does with us? Does He watch us weather storms, knowing He can rescue us at any time? Sometimes we wonder why He doesn’t. Didn’t He build into us resources inherent in human nature? Plus, we have His promise that just as He watches over His creatures, He watches over us with even more intensity.

Camaradarie One of His resources is the gift of friendship, so beautifully pictured here. There is a certain camaraderie among the birds. Oh, I’m sure they’ve pecked at each other over many petty things. Haven’t we all observed that? But when the storm hit, they clung together. At Peace Can we not learn a lesson from the birds? Yes, we may bicker and peck at each other from time to time. But just as the birds faced the storm together, so we must see the value of friends when the vortex rolls in.

So, find a friend and be a friend. You will need each other.

Because there will be storms, and you’ll never walk alone. 1500750_10153710169035578_55612301_o

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” ~ Matthew 6:25-27
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Window
Photo credits: Sonya, a personal friend of mine who will remain anonymous. Thank you, Sonya. 

Thank you to Ms. Sprinkle Sparkles On for featuring this blog post. I encourage all to read this wonderful post that reminds us of how we need each other. It dovetails perfect.

Welcome is My Word|Beginnings

Welcome“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

“One Word That Will Change Your Life”
The book title sparked my curiosity. One word? Really? The book’s been around awhile and I have to say, I like this idea. Instead of lofty New Year’s resolutions, it holds to a one-word theme for the year. Smaller actions center around that word. The smaller acts compound throughout the year, where the meaning of the word takes root and becomes the impetus for real, long-lasting change.

One word. So simple. And I love anything simple. The author recommends using the entire month of December to choose a word. Mine surfaced immediately.

Welcome.

It was certainly different from some of the other suggested words like joy, health, and patience. But I really liked it. I knew it was mine. And as I thought about it, I realized it was a pretty hefty word. In fact, I started to visualize other words like spokes on a wheel hub. Words like hospitality, cooking, decorating, and gardening. Such fun! I’m liking this! I envisioned thumbing through magazines filled with luscious gardens and yummy recipes. But other ideas surfaced, too. And that’s where it got hard.

Words like housework, unexpected dinner or overnight guests, digging in hard clay dirt, keeping the kitchen and great room cleared of surface clutter, keeping bathrooms presentable. Then there’s my love-hate relationship with the screened-in porch. Ugh! Those cobwebs and outdoor dust cling with a vengeance. And how can I forget the spare bedroom—that extra “space” meant to be space for overnight guests? Sometimes instead of a spare bedroom it turns into a spare-parts room, filled with assorted what-nots that have no particular space yet.

Not that I am a clean-freak, (am I?) But I do find myself filled with excuses for a lack of invitation to anyone outside my grown children and grandchildren because of one simple word–ready. I am not ready, or at least I think I’m not. Well, in my mind it’s more like not ready enough.

But another excuse really gnaws at me–invitation. I do not  invite in an intentional way like I used to. Oh, I’ll throw out a “just drop in whenever”. But “whenever” turns into “never”, which never becomes “when”. Yes, the kids drop by on a continuum, but that even lends to another excuse. “My cup is full and there is no more room.”

Welcome Closer

But there is room. If I make room. You see, welcome is not just for others. It’s for me. And it’s good for me. It’s good for me to reach outside myself and into the world of someone else. To provide a comfy room for weary travelers. Have the neighbors over for dinner. Extend a listening ear. I can get so self-centered and forget that the blessing of my home was not meant just for me and my family. It was meant for others, for the world. I may not change the world, but my welcome may touch a life that will. “Welcome” speaks love and love is not love til it’s given away. May I live generous.

I am ready!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~ Maya Angelou
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This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Beginnings”.  Also, I’m wondering if you noticed the ferns at Christmas? It just happened to be a warm stretch so they got to come outside. Why not? 🙂
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My favorite “manuals” to stay welcome-ready. Time to pick them up again!
Once-A-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg
Dwelling: Making the Most of the Space You Call Home by Mary Beth Lagerborg

The Lesser Light|One Favorite Subject

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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.

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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

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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

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