You Are My Sunshine | Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

20131030-173804.jpg“Some think love can be measured by the amount of butterflies in their tummy. Others think love can be measured in bunches of flowers, or by using the words ‘for ever.’ But love can only truly be measured by actions. It can be a small thing, such as peeling an orange for a person you love because you know they don’t like doing it.” ~ Marian Keyes

DSC02872A paintbrush swathed in shades of orange,
Lavished sky with broad, bold strokes.

20130906-003319.jpgA space of gold,
A slice of time,

CWe breathe,
and lose breath

Sunrise Bora Boraat the marvel of such artistry.
No words.

IMG_1952Just time,
… beauty,
…. peace
….. and love.


This is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Orange”. Click here to see all the other “Orange” creativity.
Here’s a few of the many others I liked:
Say It With a Camera
Don’t Throw Away That Orange Peel
Travels and Trifles: Orange: Last, But Not Least
EnJoy!
Alexandria

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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! ūüėČ
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‚ÄĒStrong. 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! ūüôā

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

Moon Shadows and Silhouettes

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

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

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

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But not for long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes I just need to keep my eyes open.

Peace,
Alexandria

Love, With a Twist

Morning Walk

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

Morning Hug

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

IMG_6719

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

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

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

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

DSC_0300

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

Ever!!!

Ever

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


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


Other favorites:

Reckless Reclamation

Chalk Talk

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

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

Art in a Box
‚ÄúEvery child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.‚ÄĚ ~¬†
Pablo Picasso

We smile and laugh. We are captivated. Enchanted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Creativity takes courage.” ~ Henri Matisse

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

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

After all, our Creator has the same insatiable desire. Look at the intricate beauty He presents to us everyday, everywhere‚ÄĒthe art¬†of heaven. We do well to imitate Him. And¬†chalk is a great place to start. ūüôā
Peace, Alexandria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, Alexandria


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


World’s Toughest Job
Here’s to Mom’s


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

EverSpring

The Vernal

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

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

Vernal

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

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

Hanging Out

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

And my soul mirrors the unfolding‚ÄĒmy song called hope.

Together

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

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

Raise Me Up

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

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

First Rose

First Rose of 2014

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

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

Done

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

Peace, Alexandria


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

 

Quiet Street, Busy Land

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yep, this is what I call “my ‚Äėhood”. ūüôā
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‚Äďsheer luck ūüôā
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

Inside the Yellow

The Smiling Cardinal

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

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

Flicker of Red. Will you stay?

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

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

Stay Inside the Yellow

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

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

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

Inside Growth

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

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

The Greatest Story Never Told

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

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

I Like This Place!

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

Happy Inside

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

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. ūüôā

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‚ÄĒthis 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‚ÄĒfrom 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‚ÄĒthat 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 fa√ßade 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‚ÄĒwe are not absent.

We are most present. And extremely so.

And Someone Else

Perhaps, more so.

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


Related article:

The Christian Pundit: What a Christian Woman Knows About Beauty

 

Fleeting Objects of Affection

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

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

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

Canon EOS5D Mark iii Focal length 31 F number 5.6 Exposure time 1/200

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But perhaps you have.

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Experience the healing wonder of childhood … everyday.

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


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‚Äôs skin,‚ÄĒseven 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‚Äďyou 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‚Äďit 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‚Äďthe 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‚Äďthe place of constants‚ÄĒlove, 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‚Äďthe forever constant.
The place where you breathe in the comfort and exhale a long sigh,

“Ahhh … there’s no place like home.”

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

Bracing the Vortex | Through the Window

Cardinal Weathers the Storm

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

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

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

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

Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome is My Word|Beginnings

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

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

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

Welcome.

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

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

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

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

Welcome Closer

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

I am ready!

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

Joyeaux Noel!

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“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.” ¬†~ Harlan Miller

DSC_1514Remember
This December,
That love weighs more than gold!
~ Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

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“Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.¬† Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.” ¬†~Francis C. Farley

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“Christmas is for children.¬† But it is for grown-ups too.¬† Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.” ~ Lenora Mattingly Weber

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“Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.” ¬†~ Carol Nelson

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“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ~ Andy Rooney

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“Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for mirth is also of Heaven’s making.” ¬†~ Leigh Hunt

¬†The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is Joy. Need I explain? ūüôā
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Peace, Alexandria

Other favorites:
Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy
Merry Christmas in Many Languages, I See Beauty All Around
An Atheist Excerpt, Found
Christmas Favorites, Clicky Chick Creates
Christmas Family Traditions, This Man’s Journey

The Lesser Light|One Favorite Subject

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‚ÄúAnd 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.‚Ä̬†~ 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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‚ÄúThe moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.‚ÄĚ ~¬†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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‚ÄúThe moon is a loyal companion.¬†It never leaves. It‚Äôs always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it‚Äôs 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.‚ÄĚ ~¬†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 ‚ÄúBut even when the moon looks like it’s waning…it’s actually never changing shape. Don’t ever forget that.‚ÄĚ ~¬†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.¬†‚ÄúThere 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‚Äďwe 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‚ÄĒcomplete 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‚ÄúNot all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.‚ÄĚ ~ Mother Teresa

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

“To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition‚ÄĒto know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived‚ÄĒthis 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

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