Wrapped in Pink Silk

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It was a day like any other. Dawn.

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First things first: Put on the coffee, dog out, blinds up–which wakes up the cat; thus, feed the cat. Pour first cup. Turn and watch. Astonishing.

Fog threads spin across the field.

A few minutes pass and something new comes with the rise. Spinning threads; a blush, then a pink. A soft, silken, baby pink.

And it was gone in five minutes.

A glimpse of glory. God’s gift, wrapped in blush, silken garments. So serene. Lovely.

EnJoy 😊

Peace,

Alexandria

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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.

The Time is Now!

As we celebrate another Christmas, memories of the past are a common thread woven through our countless conversations. We truly are wired to dwell on the past or dream about the future, aren’t we? The photo challenge this week prompts us to think of the “now”, the present. And so I thought I’d share a sweet moment I quickly captured.

After being fenced off from the gifts for an entire week, it was finally time! Now! The blockade was removed and my littlest grandson scurried a quick path straight to a different kind of “present”!

I hope you enjoy your “present”.  And your presents, too!

And finally, may another kind of “present” fill your life.

The presence of Jesus Christ—Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

Present.

Remember, His time is always “now“.

Peace and Merry Christmas!
Alexandria

 

WRITTEN IN THE SKY – Dec. 24

Once in awhile I come across post that just immerses my attention. And the post below is a reblog of exactly one of those.

Completely fascinating! It’s a topic glossed over in numerous Christmas themes, songs, and carols. It’s form sits atop most of our Christmas trees, yet it’s logic defies all knowledge. And it’s wonder even escapes the most astute true Christian believers.

Skeptics may begin to consider a truth that transcends beyond their usual logical conclusions. And true believers will be filled with an even greater faith in the miracle we call in this modern day, “Christmas”.

I hope you take the time to read this very short post, even watch The Star of Bethlehem video. (It’s currently available via YouTube.)

Enjoy the magnificence!
Peace, Alexandria

A DEVOTED LIFE

“saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:2

I love art.
I am a fan, not an expert.

As a fan, I can appreciate the beautiful; marvel at mastery; admire creativity; absorb emotion.  However, the artist’s meaning is often lost in mere fandom.  An artist’s message often flies over my engineering oriented head as I just appreciate the exhibition.

I am greatly assisted by the art experts who explain the symbolism crafted into a piece.  I love the pure joy in reading a work of literature for entertainment.  I also love the delightful astonishment from the revelation of a carefully crafted message imbedded in a work of which I was oblivious.

I often appreciate art in its various forms and know that I am missing a deeper meaning.

This is…

View original post 749 more words

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

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

What a Community of a Few Can Do | WPC: Community

We meet for prayer

Day One. We arrive in Guatemala. Hungry, Tired, Wet.

Fifteen people. Nine days. That’s all we had.
So few of us, so much to do. “How can we make a difference in nine days?” An oft-repeated murmur: “Wow, we are here for only nine days. Nine days seem so short to do anything.” And the most repeated: “What will we leave when we go?”

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Build What??? With What???

Another time. A similar question. “There are so many and we are so few. And we have only five loaves of bread and two fish. How do you expect us to feed all of these?” (Matthew 14:17)

Crowd waiting for glasses

And this, too? A crowd larger than expected waits for eyeglasses

Why is it we think value in terms of numbers?

“Bring them here to me.” (Matthew 14:18)
Here we are, Lord. Tired. Hungry. Wet.

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.” (Matthew 14:19) That’s how we feel, Lord. Broken. Broken people. How did you do it? How will you do it? Umm…what was that you just did? Gave thanks? With barely enough food for a single family you gave thanks?

“Then he gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the people.” (Matthew 14:19b) And so we began. From sun up to sun down, non-stop, never-ending–we set out to do what seemed impossible. We’re not sure about all this! As the week progressed, our goals loomed far away. But we just pressed on.

New living quarters“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” (Matthew 14:20, 21) Note that the number of just men was five-thousand. Add the women and children to that and the number grows.

But everyone was satisfied. And there were even leftovers.
Well, our week finished. Were the people satisfied? We don’t fully know but their countenance reflected joy and thanks. We think they were more than satisfied. And we were delightfully surprised, elated actually. So few of us and so little time, broken humanity, giving thanks, serving. He did the multiplication.

Did we have leftovers? Indeed. This is what we left.

An earthquake-proof rebar-filled foundation for new staff living quarters at a men’s drug and alcohol rehab center—complete with plumbing, electrical, and a smooth concrete floor.

The gift of sight through donated eyeglasses for an entire community and local school.

Lettering the title and logo on the wall entrance.

Also for the school children: their first very-own box of crayons and backpacks. School supplies for their teachers. Their first watercolors ever. Their very first school pictures ever. A colorful mural on a classroom wall. A newly painted gymnasium.

Visiting two orphanages and hearing their stories. Playing with and holding the children.

Family portraits of the community.

Connections made. New relationships started. Longtime friends reunited. And not only that. Three months later, as of this very week, two more orphans have a sponsor to provide their need for a home, family, and education. That sponsor is my sister.

Two children. Let’s see, what was that distant thought breaking the surface of my mind? We only have fifteen people and nine days. Like a pebble cast upon the water, we cast ourselves, adding faith with thanksgiving.

We see but a few ripples, but it is enough. Enough to know that ripples are never-ending. And, by faith, we believe that is enough for now.

Final result“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14 NKJV)

“To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition—to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with a theme of “Community”.
It’s just a bit longer than usual and I’ve had it sitting in the drafts for a while. When I saw the theme this week I thought it fit very well. I hope you do, too. If you ever get a bit jaded or in a rut about life in general, I urge you to take a mission trip to another country. It usually involves a rigorous schedule so be ready. Research the area you’re going, take some good safety measures, learn a little of the local language. I also recommend going with a group that does some sight-seeing. A good blend of work and taking in the sights and culture bring a nice sense of balance to the trip. And be ready to be blessed. It’s a great feeling to step out of your comfort zone and give, expecting nothing in return. You’ll be amazed at the skills you’ll suddenly develop.
How about a few comments from any of you who’ve done it?
Peace, Alexandria

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

The Master Speaks | Masterpiece: Eye of the Beholder

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

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

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

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

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

But it was love unleashed.

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

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

These were masters of another kind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, Alexandria

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

Sejeong Production
Postcard Photo
Blessings Through Raindrops
Chronicles of Illusion

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

A Golden Hour Collection | Weekly Photo Challenge

IMG_2432“Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise.” ~ George Washington Carver

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“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” ~ John Muir

DSC02872“Two golden hours somewhere between sunrise and sunset. Both are set with 60 diamond minutes.” ~ Horace Mann

DSC_0450“Someday you will find the one who will watch every sunrise with you until the sunset of your life … Just be patient.” ~ Unknown

“I like that time is marked by each sunrise and sunset whether or not you actually see it.” ~ Catherine Opie
Sunrise Bora Bora
“Every sunrise offers renewed hope to carry out the reflection after the sunset of yesterday. A time to let go of yesterday and embrace the new day.” ~ Alexandria Sage

Pain Prescriptions“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
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This week’s Photo Challenge theme is “The Golden Hour”, known as the hour of sunrise and sunset. No one can deny the colors and lighting are breathtaking. How many times has this Golden Hour stopped you dead in your tracks and caught your attention? It amazes me how God built into nature two times every single day to get our attention, to bless us with a glorious start and a reflective end. Simply captivating.

Nearly every camera captures them easily. However, it was so nice of WordPress to host the Photography 101 series to help us along. And this week we were given a lesson by one my favorite photographers, Wenjie Zhang of A Certain Slant of Light. I only have one tip to offer about the Golden Hour. Be prepared and don’t hesitate. Get that picture. If you wait even one minute it will be gone.

To end with, when I saw the challenge theme I immediately thought of a song I’ve recently heard and come to love, aptly titled Golden. It is filled with a bittersweet mixture of hope and reality that intertwines the journey of every person— the rhythms of life, the ups and downs, the fickle moments, the grand ones.

Life can become a tangled mess sometimes. But through it all, the resounding truth in the last quote above, from the Bible, offers a hope that holds us firm in the hand of God. Is it not He who chose to shout His love, mercy, and faithfulness through two glorious golden hours of each day? Though the sun sets and the day ends, His mercies never come to an end. And every morning once again He shouts His love to carry us through.

His faithfulness is constant, not because of who we are, but because of who He is.

Peace, Alexandria
Credits: Golden (youtube lyric video. song by Amy Grant).
Guest Author, Stephen Deal, for his sunrise photo.

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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Nature’s Usual Pose | Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

The Life of Less

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

The Climb

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

It's a Bug's Life

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

Aspire

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

The Sign of Heaven

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

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

A World Awash With Color

I wonder if flowers could talk or had human emotion or ability to reason, would they dwell in prejudice against the color of another flower? Would they judge and resent, even hate one another because of the color of their petals? And not just the color differences, but the different varieties?

The hydrangea colors are dependent on soil acidity. The daisies in the photo above have colors that are man-induced. They were “created”. Not the flowers, of course, but the colors. Why did someone do this? Doesn’t it add to their brilliance, bring a smile, and increase joy? They shout “fun”!
Aren’t we awestruck and delighted by the very nature of their differences? Their color and composition is completely at the mercy of their maker. They cannot help what color they are. But do we complain? Do we harbor resentment because of the multitude of color?

Then why do we do this with humanity? It is the stuff of war and crime throughout history and all of us know it is wrong. Yet, hard as we try, we can all find traces of it lurking deep inside. It is our greatest stain deep within—racism. But how did it happen?
Color Collide

My instinctual guess is it was taught and modeled before us. In my own observations it seems children are not born racist. When they are young, watch how they play. I marvel at how they play happily with one another, all strangers, all different skin colors. It is a delight to watch, my five-year-old grandson mixing right in.

DSC01669

But as we grow up things change. And we have a big problem. So why don’t we just admit it? In problem solving, isn’t that what we’re taught? To first admit we have a problem?

M

So what next?
My own resolve is to look beyond skin into the soul. The soul which is a human heart with a universal need of empathy and love. A soul which needs to be heard.

Think of last summer’s Olympics. For a wondrous moment every nation was at peace. We watched the very best athletes parade into the stadium and what a sight it was! Did it not take your breath away to see the vast array of different cultures, different colors both in costume and skin?

Great Britain (Team GB) - Parade of Nations - ...

Did any of us have a racist or prejudiced bone in our body during those wondrous seventeen days? As a believer in God, I theorize the Creator’s original intent may have been what we witnessed at the Olympics. Why else would He be so risky as to create his image-bearers in different colors?

He obviously loves lots of color. Why not color us, too! He created everything and said, “It was good.” And that’s exactly what my different skin color friends have done for me—enriched my life and thinking. It is good—very, very good.

Children Craft Color

So if nature and children teach us to delight in the of the myriad of color, can we not strive to do the same?

After all, it’s all just a matter of a mere .012% melanin.

“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” ~ Psalm 139:14

“One race, many ethnicities.” ~ S. Michael, aka my son.

“For we are God’s masterpiece … ”~ Ephesians 2:10
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Daily Prompt: Colors

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.}

Mother Loads of Love | Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

I

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

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week has a theme called “Love”.
I know—where do we begin, right? I’ve got other posts on love so I thought I’d focus on one particular type of love. Can you guess? These photos are just candid shots, some very poor images, but you cannot deny the very spirit of motherhood in them.

Sometimes love needs no explanation or definition. You just know it when you see it. Don’t you just see love in the photo above?

Now that my children are grown and in their twenties, trying to find their way, I do something I swore I would never do.
I worry.
If I let my mind wander and dwell it can flourish into a constant panic attack in my chest. I just have to push the “Stop” button sometimes. A lot of these thoughts can wander into places imagined, things that may never take place; but what of the real problems they face? Is there anything I can really do?

Hands Guide an Adventurous Walk

All three of my children are healthy, loving, and growing in wisdom. They are making good decisions as they face the realities of life. I thank God each day for them and turn my anxious thoughts into prayers. I wholeheartedly enjoy them.

I reminisce at their childhood. When they stumbled and got hurt I could scoop them up with heavy doses of mother-love and lots of band aids and everything was just fine. In fact, everything was just fine as long as they were in my hands, tucked safely in my arms. My arms could snug them tight and my hands could stroke and soothe. But then I learned the simultaneous joy and pain of motherhood.

And that was letting go …

Hands Let Go

First to preschool, then kindergarten, on and on.
My arms and hands were emptied of them and the thoughts would begin—are they okay? Will they get hurt? What if someone is mean to them?

As they grew out of physical harm the wounds of the heart kept my intuition on its toes. Once again, my touch could soothe. And each hurt pinched my own heart a bit. Still does. When you carry them inside you for those nine long months there is that strong bond of just “knowing”.

And I try not to worry. I try to pray. But I catch my hands, my arms. Empty. Where are they right this minute? Are they happy? Are they suffering? Is there anything I can do right this minute?

I thought about my grandmother, how she did this, standing there wringing her hands. My mom did, too.

Now I am doing it.

Why, oh why, oh why? This has just got to stop! And one day it did. While rocking my sweet grandson I figured it all out …

Arms of Love

The only time we feel our children are safe is when they are in our arms. When they are not we wring our hands. Our arms and hands must be wrapped around them, else worry never leaves us.

I remember the moment of their birth cradled first in my open hands, me all giddy, forgetting the horrific trauma of the prior moments! You’d think those moments would linger but no—our hands are full of a wonder so great the birth pangs slip easily from our memories as our hands and arms wrap around that gracious gift. And so it goes from the time they are born …

if they are not in our arms, we wring out hands. Our hands must, they must do something! Our arms, our hands hold the key to their safety, their wholeness, their existence, don’t they!

What are we to do with our empty hands? What should fill our hands when our children do not?

Why not assume a different position … and a difference perspective? Unclench and pry apart, then turn those wringing hands into peaceful palms together, then point them heavenward … in prayer.

Could it be for this very reason that hands folded together are prayer’s only adornment? I wonder that perhaps God knew mothers would need something useful to do with our hands when our little ones are grown and out in the great big world.

For in this simple gesture is the truest place where heaven does move earth, as a mother’s prayer is borne like no other. For those folded hands replace the empty hands and fill the heavens with songs whispering the best and highest we can do for our children—place them in the hands of the One who never sleeps and has His eye on them at all times.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

Other interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge that I like:

Foundation for Renewal

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

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

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,


The crownless again shall be king.”


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

Peace, Alexandria

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

In a World Gone Mad … Words That Heal, from an Anglican Parish Priest

Need Some Space?

A quiet place?

Space for
Reflection … Repose … Reposition … Respite … Release?
Space …
for Peace?

Expanse … Solitude… Space.
My soul needs to breathe.
What about yours?

With a world in turmoil, my soul needed some breathing and it came to my Inbox the other day. I just had to share it.
I am reblogging a post, with permission from the author, Simon Marsh, an Anglican parish priest from North Western England. The link is below, titled “SOME SPACE”.

Simon’s words washed over my soul with eloquence and elegance.
A message for a world o’ hurt.

Does your soul need a place to breathe?
There is a place … that always has space …
for you.

Thank you, Simon, for saying what I could not.

Peace,
Alexandria

http://simonmarsh.org/2012/09/13/some-space/
by Simon Marsh

© from Simon Marsh blog post “Some Space”

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

Weekly Photo Challenge | Love, With Borders

“Love consists in this–that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
, “Letters to a Young Poet”


“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
I Corinthians 13: 6-7

This is one my entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge for January 25, 2013. For more entries click on the following link. I have a new post in the works for this theme but for now I hope you enjoy this. It is one of my personal favorites. The photos were a glorious accident.
Peace,
Alexandria

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

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