Tuesday, September 30, 2008

happy new year!!

Happy New Year!!!

You may find that a strange greeting for this time of year, however, that is what today is! At least in the Jewish calendar. This is the holiday of Rosh Hashana, the Feast of Trumpets (or the Day of the Shofar Blast), the second holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Preceded by thirty days of preparation for the Holy Days --confessing sins, seeking forgiveness, making amends-- Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year and begins the High Holy days, called the Ten Days of Awe.

Traditionally, for the Jews, the Ten Days of Awe are a time of introspection, of taking stock of one's behavior over the past year. It is a time of self-examination, of looking deeply into who one truly is and how one has lived that out. For the Jews, this period is ended with the most Holy day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is a day of fasting, prayer, and confession, and the one gracious day each year that an individual could receive forgiveness.

Though I am not Jewish, as a believing Christian, I think there is much value to be gained by delving into our rich Biblical heritage. The history is interesting and instructional, but there is also much to be gained by looking into it from the perspective of what it teaches us about Who God is or about how we should behave.
One theme of Rosh Hashana is the celebration of the new year-- and the creation of the earth. God is the creator of heaven and earth, and it is celebrated with the trumpet blasts! Another theme is the celebration of the royalty of God. He is our King, and He is to be treated and worshipped as such. Many times we take His Kingship lightly and forget what it is to treat Him as a king should be treated. He is royalty...He is the King! We should bow our knee, and our hearts, in honor of Who He is.

I do, especially, like the thought of using these days for self-examination... for introspection regarding my walk with God and with my fellow man. Where am I at in my relationship with God? Am I growing spiritually, or am I merely coasting? Is my relationship with God reflected in my relationships with others? It is good to take the time to focus on these questions... to look inside, to see what lies beneath, and also to ask God to show me what He sees.

And, so, I wish you Happy New Year, my friends! And Happy Introspection! Won't you join me in the celebration of these Holy days....

Monday, September 29, 2008

an insect view...

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

...amazingly detailed veins and cells of a leaf

...the soft contrasting colors of a pine cone

...the center of a rose

...brilliant sunshine through blades of grass

It is in these minute and miraculous details that we can see the intricate handiwork of the great Artisan. Let us take the time to look with the eyes of an insect and admire the glory of creation with hearts filled with awe and gratitude!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

celebrate the Sabbath... in song...

Blessed Be Your Name
--Matt & Beth Redman
Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow,
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name when I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness,

Blessed be Your name Every blessing You pour out,
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in,
Lord, still I will say:
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s “all as it should be,”
blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering,
blessed be Your name

You give and take away, You give and take away

My heart will choose to say,

“Lord, blessed be Your name”

Every blessing You pour out,
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say:
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
blessed be Your glorious name

Saturday, September 27, 2008

under construction...

I saw this sign recently and fell in love with it. For some reason, I felt I could relate to it. Perhaps, it is because it describes ME.

I am not a finished project. I am a work-in-progress...being built, shaped, molded, reworked, upgraded, restored.

Yes, I am Under Construction. And I am glad the Master Craftsman is heading up the construction crew. He thoroughly knows and understands this project called "Me," for He was also the Designer. He knows the best way for repairs, reconstruction, and restoration to be handled. And He knows who else to enlist as part of the Crew.

I know one day this project will be complete, but I think that completion date may be a looooong way off in the distance! So, until that time, God and I are working on me together. And until then, I think I'll just keep this sign posted...
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
~Psalm 139:14

Friday, September 26, 2008

the glory of friendship...

The glory of friendship
is not the outstretched hand,
nor the kindly smile
nor the joy of companionship;
it is the spirited inspiration
that comes to one when he discovers
that someone else believes in him
and is willing to trust him
with his friendship.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

...today, I am grateful for my friends...

  • for those who know me (73)
  • for those who love me (72)
  • for those who encourage me (71)
  • for those who BELIEVE in me! (70)
  • for those who trust me with their friendship (69)

Thank you, God... for I am well and truly blessed!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

gifts of unexpected love...

Tonight when I got home from work, it was late, already mostly dark, and I was tired. As I walked up the steps to my apartment, I was thinking about what I had in the refrigerator to make for dinner that would take the least amount of time and effort. My neighbor had her door open and called out a hello when she saw me, and I popped my head in her window to say hi. Noting that I was getting home from work rather late, she offered me some of her fabulous homemade pesto pasta for dinner. Before I had time to decline, she told me to "go get settled in and I'll bring you some." This from someone who also works full-time and has a toddler...

It was a wonderful and welcome gift of kindness with which to end my day. And I am grateful for such unexpected kindnesses ... there were others I received today that made my day a better one--
  • the bright smile my toddler neighbor gave me when he saw me tonight through the window
  • 'real' mail (snail mail, that is! I do so love it still!!) from a friend
  • comments of encouraging words and shared thoughts left on my blog by fellow bloggers
  • a story emailed to me that reminded me of God's goodness and my blessedness
  • two hours of my friend's time given to me out of her busy day

Kind acts. Not expected, nor solicited. Given freely out of generous hearts. These are the things that make each day special. These unexpected gifts. Tonight, I sat down and truly appreciated these 'little things' that mean so much. And I was reminded to be alert throughout my own daily life to see places and opportunities where I, too, may give a gift of unexpected kindness, of unexpected love...

And, though it may sound corny, as I write this I am reminded of that old camp song, Pass It On (by Kurt Kaiser):

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,

And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;

That's how it is with God's Love,

Once you've experienced it,

You spread the love to everyone

You want to pass it on.

  • for random acts of kindness in my day (68)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

heart of remembrance...

Today is the anniversary of a very dear friend of mine. It is the three-month anniversary of her death, which may sound like a morbid or depressing topic about which to blog, but... actually, it is the three-month anniversary of her joyful entry into her heavenly home and the beginning of an amazing eternity there! And THAT is reason to celebrate!

My friend, Andrea (or Andie, as most people knew her), was a wonderful person with a great big heart! She was known by most everyone in the small town where we lived (including many tourists as well!), and her memorial --her life celebration -- was attended by about two hundred people. In her life here on earth, she wore a big smile and was full of laughter... that is how I will always remember her! She touched many lives with her caring, her cooking, and her couch, if you needed a place to lay your head!

On the day of her memorial service, when the 'festivities' were over, and we had finished with the clean-up, a mutual friend of ours and I went to a local Mexican restaurant to wind down. The previous few weeks had been very long and painful for me, as Andie had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and then passed away just three short weeks after the diagnosis. Those weeks had been full of doctor appointments, difficult conversations, hospitalization, and many, many emotions. I, personally, was exhausted.

When my friend and I were seated in the restaurant, chips and salsa were placed before us, and we dove right in. We (meaning mostly ME, as I LOVE salsa!!) had eaten our way through the first bowl of salsa, and I was just pushing the bowl to the edge of the table for the waiter to give us a refill, when I saw something that brought joy to my saddened heart and made me LAUGH!! (Can you guess?!?)

This is what I saw in the salsa bowl:

...for those of you who need a little help with this, I've cropped it out for you:

And here, I had scooped it out of the bowl and put it on the edge of my glass...

How much fun is THAT?!?! Once again, it was my loving Father's way of telling me He knows my heart, my sorrows, my language... and reminding me that He is in every moment of this life with me and that He loves me. And, I must admit, I think it's rather funny that it was in a bowl of salsa, and Andie was of Mexican heritage!!! Perhaps this is a reminder that she is dancing in heaven ... maybe even the Salsa!!

So, here's to you, my friend Andrea! A heart of love in remembrance of you... of the love you shared with others and the love we had for you! and of the love of a kind and generous Father Who continually speaks to our hearts!

  • for the love of a best friend (67)
  • for the joy of reaching heaven! (66)
  • for a Savior Who gave me everything so I may be there with Him! (65)
  • for dancing (64)
  • for hearts found in wonderfully strange places! (63)

    ...for these, I am truly grateful today!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

shadow fun...

Being creative can be fun. Being silly can be fun. Being creative and silly at the same time can be great fun!! Just give a kid a sunny day and a couple of hands, and watch and see what he can come up with for some laughs.

For a post of simple creative fun, I thought I would share a few of the delightful shadow creations of my nephew...
...a dog...

...a dog and a rabbit (or is it a wolf?!)...

...a snake (see his fangs?!)...

...a snail...

...getting his eye posts touched! (my favorite!!)

...a spider (also a fav!)...

And then, the adults give it a little bit of a try after dinner....
...two ducks??...

...a flying bird...

...a rabbit looking at a flower (to eat!)...

...and the piece de resistance... (drumroll, please!!)...
...Michelangelo's "God Creates Adam", from the Sistine Chapel!!
(do I hear applause for THAT one?!)
the models for the shadows above:
I hope you enjoyed our little shadow show... if you get a few minutes on a sunny day (or even under your living room lamp!), see what YOU can come up with. It will bring a childlike joy to your day and a smile to your face!

Monday, September 22, 2008

welcome, fall!

Well, it is here... the first day of autumn. As the sun has set on the final days of summer, fall has now fallen upon us. Growing up in the Midwest, I have always loved the fall--the crisp, cool air, the green leaves of summer giving way to the beautiful colors of fall as the trees change into their autumn garb. Brilliant oranges, yellows, reds, and even occasionally a reddish pink hue. How I love this time of year...

Living now in southern California, I do not get to experience quite the intense drama of the midwestern autumn, but we do still know that fall is here. The nights get cooler and the days shorter; the fall flower trees bloom, and the leaves of some of the trees do turn colors. It is a lovely time of year!

Though our leaves have not yet begun to turn, I thought I would give you a bit of a taste of fall...just to whet your appetites...

As we say our good-byes to summer, let us welcome with open hearts and eyes the beauty of fall...

  • beautiful colors of fall (62)
  • the changing of the seasons (61)
  • the cool, crisp autumn air (60)
  • trees dressed in their fall finery (59)
  • the beginning of a new season (58)

...for these things, O Creator of the seasons, I am grateful...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

on this Sabbath...I give you my heart

I Give You My Heart
by Reuben Morgan

This is my desire

To honour You

Lord, with all my heart

I worship You

All I have within me

I give You praise

All that I adore

Is in You...

Lord, I give You my heart

I give You my soul

I live for You alone

Every breath that I take

Every moment I’m awake

Lord, have Your way in me

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Saturdays are for relaxing and for enjoying a day off from work... to sleep in, to read a book, to be outside in nature, to go for a walk... whatever it is that is your reward for a week's work well done. If I may make a suggestion for your day, perhaps it would be a good day to go outside and do some cloudwatching!
Take some time to look up at the sky and see what you can see... whether it's just an expanse of brilliant blue or sprinkled with fluffy clouds (my favorite!!), cloudwatching can bring you a sense of peaceful perspective... and maybe some entertainment as well! (depending upon what you think you see!!)
Here are a few of my sky/cloud photos to start off with...

above the clouds with a bird's eye view...

(I think this one looks like ice on a winter lake)

Sometimes it's just about the light...

...and you never know who may be watching you!! : )

...like the clouds above...
or perhaps the old men of the clouds in the photo below:
(do you see them? I see three profiles!)

Though I've yet to capture a heart-shaped cloud myself, my friend Stardust has captured a couple, and there's a great one on Ann Voskamp's blog.
(click on the links to see their posts)
Enjoy your day... and, if you do go cloudwatching, just be sure to do it safely! : )

  • Savage Chickens cartoons used by permission of artist. Check out more of the chickens at The Savage Chickens website.