Why Is Your Structure Such?


You fascinate me.

I don’t know you. Don’t know much about you, actually. I know the monarchs; so regal, vibrant. The little yellow ones—fleeting, quick. But I’ve never seen you.

As I chored about the yard, I caught glimpses of you. And I thought, you’re different. What unusual beauty. Such graceful movements.

But…

So dark. Dark as a moonless night. Dark as a storm front. Dark as deep ocean.

But such a comforting dark. There’s a softness about you. Why is your structure such?

When your lovely flight pattern stopped, I moved closer. You didn’t fly away. It looked as if you waited, and actually posed for me. Your dark was then so beautiful. The rust tinge. The white. The astonishing scallops. And then that lovely shade of blueness. Black and blue. Oh, why is your structure such!

Why did God make a black and blue butterfly??

I’m not exactly sure but I thank Him. For because of beautiful creatures like you, I see the blackest of my days and the blueness in my soul are still tinged with color, and pure white, even if there’s a touch of rust around the edges. Like a lot of things in my life.

If I would just be still; and take notice.

You dawned my day with your dark.

And perhaps that is why your structure is such.

Oh, I know you won’t be around for long. Your life is sadly very brief.

And I may never see you again. But I’m glad we’ve met. 

And I’m glad of the structure that is you.


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the themes “Structure” and “Waiting.” We don’t typically see black swallowtails around here but this year we’ve seen several. These were some of the thoughts that came to me as I observed and enjoyed them. I hope you enjoy as well. 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria

Deep Space Collage

“To go boldly where no man has gone before.”

Star Trek. The theme quote. A timeless story.

Aside from Star Wars, it’s possibly the most popular sci-fi series of all time. I loved that show. Captain Kirk—the gutsy, cunning, yet vulnerable leader was a character I most admired! Star Trek, the great predecessor of Star Wars. Still to this day they are both sheer, utter enjoyment.

Space fascinates us, doesn’t it? Huge star ships floating with grace. Hyperspace! Vulcans! Other exotic humanoids (yuk, some of them I could live without ever seeing!)

And who doesn’t love a full moon or a starry night? The constellations that have guided mankind for millennia are mind-boggling.

But did you know you could travel deep space right outside your door? It’s always been there. A space that, once entered, holds as much beauty as the stars in the sky.

Take just the rose, for instance. It’s been out your door all this time  You forge ahead in your day, maybe glance up at the sky, or in your phone, as you rush by, day in and day out.

But have you ever once thought to stop? And finally travel in? Or taken a real camera and captured it? I don’t know—maybe phones these days can do it, too

By gently separating the delicate petals, you can. Yes, they might press against your lens, which you’ll have to clean after. (Such work!)

But the trip is genuinely worth it, isn’t it? Take in the symmetry, the order of this collage of wonder; its beautiful design.

Take some time and enter into the deep space right outside your door. Waiting for you. All these years. Ttop and look. Play around a bit with angle and depth. You’ll behold a wonder you never imagined. Go boldly where few take the time to go.

And you’ll wonder why it took so long.


This is my contribution to the  Wordpress Weekly Photo Challenge with a previous theme, “Order” and the current theme “Collage“.

The designs I find in nature seem so random. Yet they are not. Even in the wild woods that surround me, there is this combined symmetry; a collage that fits together perfect. Our Creator is a master of design. Stop and take a look around you. Don’t dismiss the designs. The order. No matter the collage that is your life, which perhaps at times seems more like chaos, the majesty within nature reminds you of His presence.

Peace, Alexandria


First two photos credited to Sean M. Smith. The rest are by mine, taken with Sony DSLR.

My Local Artist

This week I’m featuring the photography of my favorite local photographer.
(Be sure to turn up your screen brightness for these.)

Hello There

His chosen profession is law enforcement. He’s one of those gems—giving out more warnings than tickets, soft-spoken, oh-so-witty, and just plain smart. But there’s a little known fact about this tough-looking officer.

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He’s a natural born artist.

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The story goes that at age two, he drew a detailed sketch of a train that was shockingly accurate. It’s true. I’ve seen the picture.

A Room with a View img_7354In school, he didn’t exactly draw. Or color. He “sketched”. He turned down crayons and insisted on colored pencils and by fifth grade started a new trend. According to his art teacher, all the kids wanted colored pencils! They thought if they had colored pencils they could “sketch” like him!

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Thinking he was headed for a career in art, in middle school he took up the piano. (By now, I think you know this police officer-artist is none other than my son.) 🙂

Unexpected Bloom

Until I could find a piano teacher I quickly gave him a “Pattern Piano” DVD instruction set. He watched a bit and I distinctly remember his voice, “I think I got this figured out.” And off he ran to the piano.

Jeep

It seemed in no time, he was playing beautifully, without lessons. I’m not sure he ever finished the DVD’s. He still plays to this day; and it’s lovely.

River Dusk

Then he did the same with guitar, as well as singing and harmonizing. No joke.

Drink

He took up photography in high school and was off taking pictures of everything, finding the beauty in the small and unnoticed.

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And this week he upgraded his camera—big-time I’d say!—and has been out and about, capturing the local countryside. These are some of the results and I will let you be the judge. But I think they are stunning. Click on each one for a fuller view. It’s definitely worth it!

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I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating but I’m truly not. Just ask his sisters! All full of sugar and spice, they are pure sweetness. They’re smart and artistic, too, but they admit, without hesitation, their brother’s artistic gifts confound them. Of course, they’re not shy about telling anyone either!


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Local“, featuring the photography of my own local artist, my dear son. I’m glad he’s out taking pictures because my life’s been a bit full as of late. He might fill in for me a bit but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. At all! 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria

These Are a Few of My Favorite Grids | Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid

A Cupful of Friend

Relaxing in the screen grid

As I looked at the Challenge this week with “Grid” as the theme, I perused through my pictures. And it was amazing to me how much of my everyday life is filled with design.

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Grid bench, where I enjoy my favorite flower.

Be it work, home, or play I’m constantly living life in a myriad of grids. Why, I glance at my desk right now and it’s filled with cubbies of lovely baskets and throws and it’s grids bring warmth, reminding me of my favorite things. And so, I thought I’d share a few with you.

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Rust-colored trees border a grid fence. Barren beauty. (Sometimes I feel like that. Sigh …)

I think deep within all of us there is a hunger for design, composition, and order. Perhaps it’s because so much of life is unpredictable and seems out of control. But then we’ll see something beautiful. And we’ll snap a picture.

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Inhale the forest through the grid. Ahhh….

Everyday we’ll snap pictures of moments. And they become a small piece of peace to latch onto and it all nourishes our soul, doesn’t it?

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Grid grill. Yum! One of my favorites!

Perhaps they remind us that in that very photo we destined order in our chaotic world.

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Light within the grid … shine for me, please.

Our eyes searched for and found the grid. We put composition where it was not.

Clean ovens

The grid shines through. (Sigh … it’s that time again!)

We found design in small things. Like a clean oven. 🙂

Friendly ferns love the grid, too!Grids make a space for everyone, especially friendly ferns!

I don’t know about you but all of these pictures make me smile. I brought a piece of order and composition to my own chaotic world.

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My favorite beach grid. Yes, here I come!

And they make me happy. Very happy!

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A grid to play with bugs. Fun!

And isn’t happiness what we’re all searching for?

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Revived skill behind a grid. Pleased. Very pleased.

So, as you go about your day, look around.

Singing in front of the grid. Inspirational!

Find the grid. Snap the picture. Tell your story. But tell it to yourself first.

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Mmm … yes, lock me behind this grid forever!!

Then sit back and smile. And be happy!

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Let this grid warmth fill me all year long! It’s coming soon!

For happiness abounds! 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria


For more entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge with the “grid” theme click here. Have a great week!

Stormscapes | Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

d

Was once a time when we were young,
Our starts were quick, our limbs grew strong.
We hung together filled with glee,
Flexing bough with gust or breeze.
Sheltered safe from ocean’s roar,
We dwelt far from its shore.

Home Sweet Home

And then one day out from the sky,
From whence it came the ocean’s cry.
The breeze grew gust and gust grew strong,
From gentle breeze to thund’rous roar,
Caught off guard our branches soared.

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Soared and stretched
and ripped and retched,
Snapped and torn and yanked from ground,
Some carried away, never to be found.

We tried to keep our footing firm,
Desperation, terror churned.
Our roots clenched tight with every turn.

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Huddled with our branches tight,

Intertwine

We clung to each other for dear life.

Then suddenly quiet, it was gone,
Swift it came and it moved on.

StormScapes

And in that instant we were changed,
Youth was stripped, innocence ravaged.

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Destruction looming large surround,
Our hearts were crushed, pieces on the ground.

But we rose proud, starting small
And once again we grew tall.
Most of us grew scarred and bent.
A few of us grew quite grotesque.

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And those that clung with locked embrace
Grew woven, as wounds would not erase.

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Thirty years have come and gone,
Remnants borne from that great storm.

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But God in His great grace adorns
our scars, and places some would see
are hid by seasons’ finery.

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And winter bears a rarity,

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For now we do curve gracefully!

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This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme of Forces of Nature.  The forces of nature surround us. They can inspire or they can devastate. But always there is purpose, re-creation, re-growth.

Look at these trees that endured a horrific storm. What about the storms in our lives? Surrounded with so many vivid reminders to—stay the storm, stand together, lean on one another, hold one another—why is it so hard for us?

These trees and other forces of nature find a means of survival through one another, and by it, find healing. Should we do any less?

Peace,
Alexandria

Quiet Street, Busy Land

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yep, this is what I call “my ‘hood”. 🙂
Street Life in the Country

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Photos taken with Nikon D60, various lenses, Sony Cybershot, Pentax, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. Deer photos taken inside through a window–sheer luck 🙂
Hope you enjoyed the slideshow format for a change!
(Note: If you’re using the WordPress App Reader the slide show will not work. At least it didn’t for me. Try a regular web page. Good luck!)
Peace,
Alexandria

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

Dreams of Grandeur

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“Surely there is grandeur in knowing that in the realm of thought, at least, you are without a chain;  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthat you have the right to explore all heights and depth;

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthat there are no walls nor fences,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnor prohibited places,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnor sacred corners

olympus-digital-cameraoriginalin all the vast expanse of thought.”
~ Robert Green Ingersoll

avataralex-original“There is one spectacle grander than the sea. And that is the sky. There is one spectacle grander than the sky. And that is the interior of the soul.” ~ Victor Hugo

There is a vast landscape inside each of us. It is the place of hopes and dreams. It is the place of wonder and dignity.
It is a grandness that is known as you.
Peace, Alexandria
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

Photo locations: Acadia National Park, Maine
Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina

Novembrance | Autumn’s Unexpected Gift

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. Tells me there is spring.

And it’s not too far from now.

Peace, Alexandria

You might also enjoy:
Autumn Boat (aditixpictures.wordpress.com)
Autumn asks (defeatdespair.wordpress.com)
Autumn Thoughts (princesstheodora.net)
A November Garden Bimble (ramblingratz.wordpress.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected
KellyJGrace

Leaf Layer

DSC_1246“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” ~ Emily Bronte

DSC_1170“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

DSC_1169“Autumn is the second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

DSC_1240“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

DSC_1275“Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

November Surprise

Be Thou the Rainbow

I saw the lovely arch
Of rainbow span the sky,
The gold sun burning
As the rain swept by.
~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

"Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life." Lord Byron

Ah, November is now upon us. I tried to find some really sweet November quotes on the web, thinking I would find a lot of poetry and quotes depicting the glory of this great month. How shocked and depressing to find literature filled with so much melancholy and gloom.

I suppose in many parts of the world the climate lends itself to melancholy in November. Around here, as October slips quietly into the sunset, November carries on the work of autumn slow and magnificent. And for me personally, November is neatly sandwiched in-between the end of Indian Summer and the bustling holidays. When you think about it, don’t the holidays serve as a huge distraction as the bleakness of winter rolls in? We wake up in January and it’s like, “Wow, it’s winter!”

The other side of the rainbow

But back to November. While I sat perusing the poetry, how fitting a chilling rain should suddenly befall the midst of all the gloom and doom. Great! Dear November, you just confirmed what I’m reading! Stop the madness!

But suddenly, a voice shattered the madness. My husband was off in the back field calling to get my camera and come running. And to my great surprise, what I saw proved those writers and poets dead-wrong. What began my November was this glorious arch spreading over the sky. Yes— a RAINBOW!  Far, far from melancholy. Oh, how I wish you could have been there! Just amazing.

Forever Chasing Rainbows

Rainbows usually conjure images of spring freshness and oh, how writers praise, praise, praise the endless wonder, relieved to the nth degree that all the bleak and blah of winter is finally gone. But just to prove those highbrow writers wrong, nature decided to blast forth this November with a rainbow. No room for gloom this time!

So what do you think about November? Rather than leave it up to famed writers and poets, perhaps it’s now up to the world of everyday bloggers like you and me to change that reputation. Even if your climate is cold, bleak, and cloudy, is there not some glimmer of magnificence? You may not get a rainbow like I did but November holds plenty of surprise. It’s there, to be sure.

I Hope

You might have to do some searching to capture the beauty in the bleak. But even in the worst of times, there is always a place, a space of sanity and glory, that silver lining of hope—possibly even a rainbow. With November ushering winter at our doorstep, together let’s find that surprise. I’m ready. How about you?

Rise Above | Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

Home Sweet Home Inside“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility—for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.” ~ Thomas a Kempis

No Small Matter“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” ~ Roald Dahl

Harmony“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” ~ Colossians 3:12, The Holy Bible

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These are a few of my submissions to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “From Above”. The photos were to be captured with a perspective from above. I hope you enjoy the photos and the quotes. For more interpretations see the links below.
Peace, Alexandria

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Change—Certain as the Seasons

Fall Dozes …

The changing of the seasons mirror the rhythm of a soul. There are times of exuberance (summer) and times of reflection (winter). Fall and winter provide reflection and rest needed for the energetic spring and summer. I know this rhythm well.

Winter Sleeps.

I’m so glad I live in a place where seasons change. I lived in the American desert southwest for a brief period. Though it possesses an outrageous and incredible beauty, I missed the changing seasons. Once you get used to those rhythms your soul ever longs for them.

Spring Sings!

The seasons mimic the certainty of change. And as the verse goes, “there is a time for each matter under heaven”, I know God has his hand in every aspect of my life—blessings and difficulties. Difficult times will come are here, but there are many good things surrounding me, too.

This is how life is—the blend of trial and blessing, seasons filled with change. Remembrance of last year fills me now with warm nostalgia. Things have changed this year. Some changes I don’t like, but some I do.

As my sweet grandson and I decorated a gingerbread house yesterday, I wished him so hard to stay five-years-old! But he won’t. As I relished the moment of childlike delight I wondered will he have this much fun next year placing the sugar plums just so? I cling a little tighter to this moment and to him, all the while knowing they both slip from my grasp.

Why do I resist change when I know change is certain? Why does change fill a corner of my heart with an unsettling angst? I cry against it to no avail. It comes anyway. Why can’t I be like nature, welcoming with open arms, and just settle into it quite nicely, ready for the next? Change comes, of that I am certain.

Summer Shouts!!

But there is a certainty of which I’m glad there is no change.

“I the Lord do not change.” ~ Malachi 3:6

Though God set into motion seasons of glorious nature, he exempted himself from change. This truth is abiding and unchanging. This is the certainty I most need. I need his constant grace, mercy, and forgiveness. And he gives all. His love and mercy are the same—when we fall, when we stand. His hand is ever there to walk us through storms or meadows.

Within the unexpected turns of life He knew we needed I need something to remain constant.
Or rather—Someone.

Fashionable Fallacies

And I’ve never been out of his hand.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” ~ Psalm 103:12

“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


Other interpretations of Changing Seasons:
{Note: This is my first time using WordPress new tiled gallery format to display my photos. Click on a photo in each collection above for a beautiful gallery display. Enjoy.}

Love = Infinity + Beyond… | Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other
but at looking together in the same direction.”

~ Unknown

This is my second interpretation for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry theme.

Can love be bound by lines, shapes, or circles? Mmm … maybe. Isn’t it two souls bound together toward a common purpose, a shared existence, despite the shapes, lines, and hairpin turns of life?

And let’s not forget—though love defies science, isn’t it a formula with a slight touch of chemistry?

Just one “angle” and just for fun,
Alexandria

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/weekly-photo-challenge-geometry/

Weekly Photo Challenge | Big

There it stands. There it has stood. Stood through rain, storm, tornado, ice. You name it. It has withstood. And it remains. It’s right down the road from me—a real eye-catcher. You can’t miss it. It gets your attention. And gets you to thinking.

Sometimes I wish it could talk, just like the Ents in the Lord of the Rings. What stories would it tell? I ho-hum drive by it all the time, and wonder.

It’s sheer mass may have withstood two wars—the one my country fought to gain its independence from tyranny and tax. But I know it must have been there for the other—the one where my country was so split it set us brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor.

Yes, we came together and united again. But at a very high price. I pray that never happens again but I fear it might. And it breaks my heart. But I must be strong, for the tree bids me be. It sets the bar.

Yes, this tree has stood through history. I’ve driven right by it in the midst of terrible storms and winds I thought would lift me away. Storm after storm I wondered if upon my arrival the tree would be split. Would it still be there? Would its strength withstand ripping winds and ice-laden boughs. Yes, every time it has.
To another part of me it’s become a faithful friend—a wave in the road, a nod of tipped branch, signaling my way home. Sometimes I just have to stop and spend a little time, looking closer.

I remember our first acquaintance of such.
And to my surprise I discovered the secret of its strength. It was not just one trunk bearing all the weight. Upon closer gaze I noted what sprung from its base. It was not just one tree. It branched out to three. For though the tree looked solitary, nothing could be further from the truth. The three massive trees wove into one.

Three huge, strong-beyond-strong, massive trees, intertwined from one expansive foundation.

One large, massive tower of strength. Strength that withstood storm and gale, war and peace, generation to generation. And the tree is one. The three unite, forming a stature rising to the sky, towering above the countryside, providing shade from heat, tenacity through storms, even a home for birds nests. A homethe tree is a home.

I hope my country—my fellow Americans, my neighbors, my family—can take a lesson from the tree.
Because I’m staking something big on it.

For you see, there’s someone else riding below its branches.

Our future.

Peace,
Alexandria

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
~ Winston Churchill

“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”
~ M. Scott Peck

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12

Referring article:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/

Other entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Big
http://francineinretirement.wordpress.com/
http://esengasvoice.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
http://aysabaw.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/big-and-twisted/
http://joyandwoe.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
http://imexcited.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
http://eof737.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
http://chrisbreebaart.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big-1/
http://theretiringsort.com/2012/10/13/so-big/

My Thoughts on Aging, from the Guest Author

The other day I was talking with a 75-year-old woman about the frustrations of aging. The aches and pains, the limited mobility, the failing memory, the sagging skin—how it all created significant frustration.

We joked about the 98-year-old woman who told me the best thing about wrinkles is that they don’t hurt. Then, in a tone more serious, she admitted she just didn’t understand the value of all this “getting old” business. She posed a valid question. The question prompted some thinking,
Might there be a valid reason?

My Dad always told me he wanted as many birthdays as he could have as long as he knew he was having them.
Over the years, he collected more than his share of serious ailments. No one loves his family or wants to be with them more than Dad. So far, he is still hanging in there. But I wonder if he is beginning to question that statement.

Like me, my Dad is a Christian. We believe in the place the Bible calls Heaven, and life will be better there than here. It is a beautiful place filled with reunion, the pain and suffering will go away, and the tears will be wiped away from our eyes. Life will be better!

So there, in the midst of that conversation, it struck me. Maybe this horrific thing called aging has a purpose.
By allowing us to change our sights from the here and now to the eternal, it reminds us that we are visitors here, waiting for our trip home.

And most of all, it reassures us that the best is yet to come.
The few glimpses of Heaven in the Bible show it to be an extraordinary place, a place so wondrous the Apostle Paul could find no earthly words to describe it. For our families it takes away a bit of the sting of death. When they compare their loss to the gain of the loved one passing, only the selfish can wish for the situation to be different.

So what should we do in the meantime?
Remember the answer to the riddle attributed to King Solomon? The riddle inquires—What four words will make a happy man sad and a sad man happy? The answer was inscribed on the inside of a ring—“This too shall pass.” And in either case, isn’t this the truth? Life is indeed fragile and every moment is a gift from God. Because of Heaven, we can have peace in the midst of all circumstances and hope in a future that bears no suffering.

This life does not end here. It is just the beginning.
So for now, love the life you are given, accept the ailments as a badge of honor, and remember—your Heavenly Father has a better life ahead.

Thoughtfully,
Steve

 

Daily Prompt: Young at Heart

“Remember … Make Hay When The Sun Shines” from the Guest Author

His voice echoes in my mind as if it were yesterday. It was a simple statement with more wisdom than my young ears could discern at the time. “Remember … make hay when the sun shines.” I was just a kid having fun on his farm. He was my grandfather—a farmer with only a third-grade education, but a man from whom flowed endless wisdom. All you had to do was listen.

In a superficial sense I knew about hay. You had to cut the grass while it’s sunny so it dries well and won’t be musty when you bale it later. As I grew to be a man, new realities dawned and the simplicity of that statement bore deeper meaning.

First, there is the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given. Before our modern era, a farmer’s hay in the barn was like money in the bank. The stored hay would feed your livestock. The healthy livestock then supplied food for your family. Storing extra food and hay in the barn meant you were prepared for potential problems. You never knew when it was going to be a long, cold winter or a hot, dry summer. Again, this preparation kept the livestock alive and provided for your family.

Today our lives are different. I don’t need hay or a barn, but the principle is unchanged. The opportunities to make money varies at different times in our lives and we should seize on them. Sometimes the economy is booming and we have the good fortune to work and store extra by having a supply of money in savings—“hay in the barn”. When the sun shines and opportunity avails, it’s important to take advantage of it.

The Bible’s Old Testament tells the true story of a man named Joseph. With God’s guidance, he led the Egyptians to save during seven bountiful years so they could survive the predicted seven years of drought. It worked and the people survived. Like my grandfather, God has given us an example of the need to save during the good times. Again we see the principle—saving during sunny days created extra resources.

We should follow these examples. Lean times will always come but with preparation you will be ready. The trend of the current time is to allow our standard of living to rise during good times and rarely put “hay in the barn” for hard times to come. Whether you’re a farmer in Western North Carolina, an Egyptian, or anyone else—you must force yourself to save.

I’m not an alarmist but facts today point to an impending economic storm. In the face of any disaster you will need three things: a faith life to support you in the midst of the storm, money in the bank (hay in your barn) to keep your family alive in the immediate aftermath, and an education to help you rebuild.

I’m encouraging you to be prepared. I hope you’re storing hay in the barn—the storm is on the horizon. Are you ready?

Thoughtfully,
Steve

Welcome—”My Thoughts”–The Guest Author’s View

Hello,
My name is Steve
and I am a thinker.

Years ago I had a professor who blocked off one hour a day to just sit and think. He said it was the most productive time of his day. Imagine what most would think of that—no noise, no talking, no devices. Just time … alone … thinking. Our minds are amazing organs but we use such a small fraction of their power. It is the equivalent of having an iPad solely for the purpose of checking email.

On occasion I’m going to share my thoughts with you. Some might think it arrogant to write down their thoughts for others to read and in a way it may be. But I hope you’re taking time to think about what is going on in the world around you. I worry that many never stop to think. A population that doesn’t stop to think is much easier to rule over. No matter what your background, I doubt you’re really interested in being ruled.

I didn’t call this place your thoughts but in no way do I exclude you. You are currently free to have your own. My intentions are not to force you to formulate opinions that agree with me or any one person. Though you may draw some new conclusions about life or become more firm in your own convictions, my greater intent is to help you pause and reflect or have a discussion. If I am successful in doing that, I think we will all be better off.

Thoughtfully,
Steve

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true.
The other is to refuse to accept what is true.

~Soren Kierkegaard

The photos in this post capture the theme “Beyond” so well I contributed them to the Weekly Photo Challenge.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

Spring Sings | Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

“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

“Do It Again”


“…it might be true that the sun rises regularly because God never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children—when they find some game or joke they especially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again!” And the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning “Do it again” to the sun, and every evening “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike—it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy—but we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

~ G.K. Chesterton

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