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

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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.

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.

Breaking 1-DSC_0141 (5)

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! 🙂

Reward’s of Winter

It’s no secret that I suffer through January and February.

dsc_0164Bleak skies, sleet, snow. Daily news intakes of major regions buried in snow and ice. Makes me thankful that it’s a rarity here.

But we still get our share of these elements to halt traffic, down power lines, and interfere with even the most mundane aspects of life, like walking the dog or getting the mail.

dsc_0103A little slip can put you quickly out of commission, not including the countless minutes of time-after-time of swaddling in coats, boots, and gloves to scurry our furry friends out for their repeated rituals!

Winter Commute img_1493Since I commute nearly an hour to work, added preparation is a must and I keep an overnight bag ready for everything. Rainboots, snowboots, thermals, down coat, raincoat, snacks, water! Brrrr…..Grrrr!!!

How Long?Like I said, I suffer.

dsc_0099But lest I lead you astray with the title of this write and leave you wondering how I could find any reward of winter, interspersed in all this dreariness are glimpses so dreadfully beautiful I could cry.

dsc_0084Nature is alive. Alive with anomalies to abate my suffering soul.

dsc_0094To thaw my freezing whine of heart and melt it into a wine of gladness.

Nature is complete and utterly at peace with itself during this chilling time,

dsc_0160And makes beauty in ways unimaginable, unexpected, and unexplainable.

dsc_0166I think of our nation a century ago and all the strenuous winter preparations that were commonplace day in and day out. They were absolute necessities as our ancestors faced these elements head on. My mere preparations pale in comparison.

My Achy Breaky WalkHere I sit and gaze out my window, blanketed in the modern conveniences of heat, indoor plumbing, hot water at every tap, an insulated home with insulated windows, even a back-up generator … just in case.

1-IMG_1420And I think I’m suffering.

dsc_0207How trite. How miniscule.

dsc_0011Thank you, O Creator, for showing me otherwise.

img_1448Oh yes, and lest I leave out one more reward of winter, here he is! Grandson number two. Born right in the middle of cold February. It didn’t snow or ice during his birth. But if it had, well there’s the four-wheel-drive.

Like I said, I really suffer! 😉
Peace, Alexandria

November, Gold at its Finest

DSC_1036-001 November.

image That golden month.
Shimmery, glittery,

1-image29-e1417103368582Dripping Gold.

imageGold waves flutter against azure sky.

imageSun shatters, splits, scatters light.

imageBlinding good.
Hmmm. And people think real treasure is found in golden coins.

imageThink again!

imageGold—Strong. Malleable. Resilient. Unchanging.
Constant.
Coins and jewelry buried for years, centuries, remain intact. Truth be told, we don’t know how much gold the earth has.

imageIt used to be the standard of finance. No more as we print a non-existent value. Fool’s gold. But November still governs by the gold standard.
Of that, there is no doubt.

Heavenly WalkIt’s said in Heaven we walk on it. November gold holds but a glimpse.

imageOh, and another thing. If you’re into those golden years, smile.

imageNovember wears gold quite well.
So should you! 🙂

imageAnd one last thing. On cloudy days I notice the gold is more brilliant against the stark, grey sky. It seems I’m surrounded by gold, gold, and more gold.

imageGold everywhere!

So on the cloudy days of life, take heart. Like fire refines to gain pure gold, so you can stand more brilliant against those hovering clouds.
Just like November.

imageSeems I take more pictures in November more than any other time. I’m up runnin’ out early to catch the rays. And with holidays in full swing, how fitting The Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “yellow”. They did that on purpose to contrast the reds and greens of Christmas. For me it’s perfectly fitting as I wasn’t ready to let go of my November gold quite yet!

If you’re all snuggled in from the cold temperatures, how about I bring the “gold” from around “these thar hills” to you!

1-DSC_1042And so I present to you, November gold. The year’s finest achievement. Worthy of honor and distinction. Most valuable of all.

EnJoy!
Alexandria


All photos by yours truly, except the third. I introduce to you, Joshua Burgard, of Shadow Rest Ministries, who took this stunning shot of unexpected snow in early November. For more of Josh’s lovely shots, check out the Shadow Rest Facebook Page.


Other “yellow” posts I liked:
JPicks
Variety of Light
Love in the Spaces, Yellow Light
Still Life with Rubber Gloves

Two Celebrations (featuring Guest Author, Steve)

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

dMy father died today.

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

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

Only one is correct.

CSo I suspect it is with death.

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

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

It changes everything.

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

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

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

Ponder that a bit. It is truly wondrous.

Thoughtfully,
Steve

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


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

Summer’s Last Stand

Glistening October So it’s October.

GlistenCrisp temperature’s, rust-tinged leaves.

Green BackgroundTime to finally bid summer goodbye.

SpindlyThe flowers, spindly and spent, yawn into a stretch,

1-DSC_0190“Can we finally stop? Isn’t is time for bed???”

Stretch“Sure, summer. Autumn’s arrived. Yep, I think it’s time to call it a day (season).
Goodnight, dear summer. Sleep tight.”

Yet, I was wrong as wrong could be,
As another stretched high her neck, towering above all.

I'm Still HereAnd, what next???

BlinkAnother blinked open her eyes!

GreetingsThen another … and another … and another!
Hmm … you remind me of someone I once knew, way back in time, known as “spring”.
But isn’t it autumn? You’re not supposed to do that!”

Of course, I said it with a wink and a grin. 🙂

1-DSC_0100“But what is all of this! Why all this!” I still wondered.

Tossing their woolly heads, they mocked, “Why, why, why all these questions!”
With a wink and a grin, of course. 🙂

So I, expecting more-of-the-same dearest autumn–my usual neat, tidy, predictable rows of life–I let go of more-of-the-same, and blink my eyes open to the unexpected.

Staring right back at me.

dsc_0107I feel outsmarted, laid bare in my ignorance. I thought I knew the next chapter–autumn. After all, it’s October!  The calendar says it is autumn, well past September twenty-first it is!

It is autumn!

But it’s never the same, is it? Something is always different.

Rust-TingeNothing ever stays the same, but nothing ever arrives the same either. Every season has the final say and knows exactly when to shut their door and lie down in sleep.

Who am I to order, predict, and explain?

As visitors hearken my harvest-laden porch,

imagethey cannot miss it.

dsc_0046And I hope they can appreciate that as much I tried to make autumn happen,

dsc_0057some things are just completely out of my control.

dsc_0119As is much of life.

But sometimes the unexpected is when joy shows its loveliest face.

Peace,
Alexandria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perspectives in Paradise | It’s Snow Fun Without You

Wish You Were Here

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

“Travel is treacherous. Do not drive unless absolutely necessary.” The words blared from the weather alarm that morning. The pelting snow and ice swooping down in the night continued, unrelenting through the day, swaddling nature tight in a blanket of ice-covered snow. Suddenly, we found ourselves trapped at home. Our narrow, dipping country road gets little help in weather like this. A few brave souls make an attempt, but the few soon dwindle to none. No way in. No way out.

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The next day, the sun burst forth but nothing could melt in the frigid air. Snowed in and unable to travel, I did the next best thing. I went outside to play. I took my four-wheeler out to ever-so-slightly disturb the pristine white and take in the sight. I had two-hundred grand, glorious acres all to myself.

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With my sled strapped on, the ice-covered snow made for a fantastic slick ride down a nice hill. The climb back up tested endurance but the thrill of the ride was so worth it.

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My husband worked away in his shop that borders the property, keeping a watchful eye lest cardiac arrest should befall me. 🙂

After sledding I rode the land and savored every moment. The great snow-covered expanse was breathtaking.

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As I crunched through icy fields the golden hour of sunset seeped in and the snow suddenly appeared as a great sea. With the layer of ice, the light glistened in spectacular array. I snapped photos, trying my best to capture the sparkly dance.

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It all sent chills through me—this magical moment where snow becomes sea and sunlight glints wildly. As I hopped back on the four-wheeler I finally turned around and another sight stopped me dead in my tracks. Literally.

Moonrise at Sunset

Before me was a gorgeous full moon lit up by the remaining rays of sun. My jaw dropped in disbelief. To my right was the sunset. To my left was the moonrise. I must admit it appeared they might be in competition as to who could astound me the most. {Can you imagine how it feels to be pulled in a tug-of-war between the sun and the moon!}

The sun was generous and cast just enough light to capture the moon in brilliant detail. Hmmm … this is not competition. Looks more like a perfect choreographed dance. To make a moment. A moment, perhaps, for me?

Moonrise at Sunset

After a few more photos I sat in total awe, inhaling both scenes before me. Perched between the sun and the moon, the greater and lesser lights of the world shined bright, so it seemed, for me. For me alone. But I couldn’t hoard this all to myself so I hoped someone else on this great big earth was beholding the same sight. My pictures give but a glimpse but I hope you can see.

Sunset on the Moon

With my senses in heightened exhilaration I slowly began to experience one of those rare moments where this sort of wondrous squeeze happens in the heart. You know what I’m talking about. Your eyes begin to well up with tears and there is a tightness in your throat. Your mind is empty of words because there is none to describe.

My faith tells me it’s a touch of heaven—from my Maker. I imagine this is what the Bible means when it speaks of God’s still, small voice. Here, in this moment of wordless void, I think I can finally hear. It is but a whisper. One word.

Moonrise

Comfort. Comfort—that soothing solace tucked within, that there is Someone so great and so amazing who’s brushed the world with a wild beauty that strokes and soothes a weary heart.

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And as the earth spins longer and my earthly days grow shorter I find the greatest treasures are moments like these, when the divine splits my world and reminds me God is surely in this place.

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And if He is in this moment of magnificence, then isn’t He with me in the moment of heartache?

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” ~ Psalm 19:1
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This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with a theme of “Perspective” As you can see, there are several photos that give various perspectives of the landscape, sun, and moon. I’ve done the best I could to share this moment with you. I hope you enjoy and feel a touch from heaven as I did.
Peace, Alexandria

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

 

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