Thursday, April 30, 2009

laughter and old age...

We don’t stop laughing
because we grow old—
we grow old
because we stop laughing.
~Michael Pritchard

Here's to staying young!....

~please note: no reptiles were harmed during the filming of this post.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

happy birthday to ME!!

Yes, today is my birthday!! Normally, I wouldn't announce it so boldly, but hey, why not?!? : ) I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but I did have two kids last night convinced I was only 23! (I'll let you in on a secret... I'm NOT!) Then I told them I was 33. Of course, they thought I was OLD at that, when I told them my real age, they were flabbergasted! They said they didn't believe I could be that old--I didn't seem like it (I'm sure it's my child-like enjoyment of the little things in life...not because I'm immature or anything!)... so, we agreed that I would stay at 33. : ) I'm ok with that.

I just wanted to share with you a couple of my blessings today...

This photo was sent to me this morning by a friend who saw this gas station sign all the way up in Redding, CA!! How DID they know it was my birthday today?!?!? I'm shocked but honored... and feeling very loved!

A Shakespeare quote I have liked and which I posted on my Facebook profile today:There was a star danced, and under that was I born.” (from Much Ado About Nothing)

A good friend gave me a birthday card with a line she wrote which said:

"It was not under a dancing star, but Heaven's smile, that you were born."

Thank you, my friend... what joy that brings to my heart and my day!

And, you know how wonderful it is when you find a greeting card that actually says something so appropriate to the person-- so RIGHT for the one to whom you're sending it? Well, I received a birthday card from my mom (love you, Mom!), and on the front of the card it said:

"May the love of God and the beauty of nature fill your heart with joy and happiness."

How perfect is that for me?! It's what this whole blog is all about... and what I want my heart-rock-life to be about-- finding my heart filled with the joy and happiness of knowing and seeing the amazing love of God through the beauty of nature and the things of everyday life!

And, lastly for now... my two favorite birthday cards this year:

...this (above) from my friend Sean, age 9... [by the way, there is a "y" on the end of Happy but it was cut off by the scanner]. This also had a baggie of candies stapled to it and a Hershey's kiss taped on as well.

...this (below) from my friend Bryan, age 7...
(the piece of tape on the left was holding a mini slinky which refused to be scanned!)

And... to all of you, my blog friends, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and to leave me such lovely and encouraging comments! I appreciate you so very much--you bring joy to my heart!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

loving the macro world...

I have decided that I adore the macro world! Er...well, or is it the "micro" world?? I call it the macro world because that's the camera lens through which I examine and photolog it. My friend, however, pointed out that it's really the MICRO world--I'm looking at the teeny tiniest up-close-and-personal details of things. So, whether you call it the micro world or the macro world, just know that I LOVE it!!
What looks like an ordinary bougainvillea plant ....
...when looked at microscopically...
or through a macro lens...
becomes so much more extraordinary!!
...WOW!!.. look at that wonderful detail!!...
...and now from the front and center...
...look at those colors...
(and, are those little white hearts even??) within a flower...
...amazing color and detail...

I love that our Father is the most amazing Creator
and that He pays such attention to detail!
For this... I am grateful!
(no wonder He says we are "fearfully and wonderfully made!" Psalm 139:14)

Monday, April 27, 2009

my mom's spring flowers...

Living in Southern California, I no longer get to experience spring in the same way that the cold states do. I think back to crisp spring days in my native Michigan...the snow melting, the ground getting soft and muddy, leaf buds sprouting on the trees, spring flowers beginning to poke their tender little heads out of the ground (sometimes even through the snow!)... first the crocuses, then the daffodils, followed closely or accompanied by the tulips and pretty little bluebells... irises and lilies of the valley... all of this lovely riotous spring color! and fat little robins darting to and fro amongst the flowers ...pulling tasty worms from the softening spring ground...

I believe spring has sprung!!
all flower photos are courtesy of my mom...
taken in her lovely spring garden in Michigan...
thanks, Mom, for sharing a bit of spring!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

celebrate the Sabbath...

O Gracious and Holy Father
~Benedict of Nursia
O gracious and holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive Thee,
intelligence to understand Thee,
diligence to seek Thee,
patience to wait for Thee,
eyes to behold Thee,
a heart to meditate upon Thee,
and a life to proclaim Thee;
through the power of the Spirit
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

once's a matter of perspective...

I had fun plans for today. Sleep in a bit. Meet a friend of mine to go watch her son's baseball game. Pre-birthday dinner with friends. A good day.

But, well, it didn't really go that way.

I did get to sleep in a bit. That went as planned, but then it kind of unraveled after that. I got in my car and was driving through our city to head to the ball game, and just as I was turning left in an intersection, my power steering went out. I wasn't sure WHAT was going on; I just knew that all of a sudden, my Pathfinder was incredibly difficult to steer. Fortunately, I was able to wrestle it through the intersection and over to the side of the street, where there JUST HAPPENED to be one last parking space on the end into which I could slide the car.

I called my mechanic, told him what happened, and he told me they'd check it out if I brought it in. I called a friend of mine and asked if he could give me a ride home from the mechanic's if I needed one. He did one better and said he'd come meet me and escort me there just in case I had trouble on the way. While I waited for him to arrive, I pulled out my owner's manual, popped open the hood, and began to I knew what I was doing.

The steering fluid level looked fine. Then I noticed that one of the drive belts was off...and upon closer inspection, that TWO of the three drive belts were off! One was just completely missing! So, I called the mechanic again, told him my discovery, and confirmed it was safe for me to drive the car when it was missing two drive belts. Consulting my owner's manual, I explained to him which two were missing, and he told me I had remaining THE ONE belt that was crucial for me to drive it with! He told me I could drive it in as long as I could handle the car without the power steering... of COURSE I can!!

My friend showed up and very kindly offered to trade cars and drive mine, so I wouldn't have to wrestle with it. I gratefully accepted his offer, and we drove to the shop. Being Saturday mid-morning, the shop was extremely busy, but they said they would squeeze me in, and my friend left me for the "short" wait. I agreed to go for a little walk to the near-by coffee shop while they looked at my car; the mechanic said he would call me when they knew what they would need to do. So, off I went.

When I had walked the two blocks to the coffee shop, I discovered there was a car show going on there in the little beach town of Seal Beach. It looked like almost everyone in town had turned out and was walking the streets-- looking at the old cars, listening to music being played at several places on the street, eating food from some of the stands, enjoying the sun and just being out with everyone else. A veritable mid-day street party!

I joined the crowd, wandered the streets, browsed in some of the stores, spent an hour in one antique store looking at every little thing and making friends with the owners, bought a bratwurst from the Lions Club table... and generally killed time for two hours while waiting for the mechanic to call me. When he did call me, he told me there was a bit more extensive work to do but he had the parts and could do it in about an hour. I gave him the go-ahead, and he said he'd call me again when he was done with it.

So, I wandered the streets some more, listened to some music, went back to the antique store and chatted with the owners a bit more, and then, after an hour, headed back to the part of the street nearest the mechanic shop. I found an unoccupied bench right at the end of the street where the old cars were lined up. I pulled out my book to read and had only gotten about two pages into it when an older couple asked if they could share my bench. I scooched over and let them sit with me.

The couple appeared friendly, so, instead of going back to my book, I started up a conversation with them, and soon we were chatting like old friends. A friend of theirs (the owner of the 1940 cherry red delivery sedan parked right next to us!) came over after awhile to join us, and before I knew it, another hour had passed.

We suddenly realized it was the end of the car show, as all of the cars were starting to line up and drive away-- right in front of us! It was neatest thing! We had the best seat in the house because all of the cars in the show had to drive right past us! It was like having a seat in the front row on Main Street Disneyland for one of the parades! And I had the best narrators because both of the gentlemen chatting with me knew all the old cars, and they proceeded to announce the make, model, and year of each car as it drove by our front row bench! We had so much fun oohing and ahhing together!

My mechanic finally called me when it was almost over and told me my car was ready. I told him I'd be there in a bit. And, I proceeded to finish watching the car parade with my new friends. It ended after another ten minutes or so; we said our good-byes and agreed to watch for each other at that bench at next year's car show--same time, same place. And I went and picked up my car.

Now, I know that was a long story, and I apologize for the lengthy telling of my tale. I commend you for making it through the whole thing (or for at least skimming it, if you did!). I tell you this story because, to me, this was another one of those "how you look at it" moments...

No, my day did not in any way go the way I planned. I had planned to see my friend's son play ball. I did not plan to have my car break down. I did not plan to spend tightly-budgeted money on car repairs I was not expecting. I did not plan to spend four and a half hours waiting for my car to be fixed.

But, when it was all done... I realized I had a really good day! I had fun! And it really was mostly because I chose to accept it for what it was, to make the best of it... and to enjoy it for what it was. And when my dinner friends said to me "I'm sorry you had to wait all day for your car to be fixed. What a drag," I heard myself say, "That's ok. I had a great day!" (and that is really not me!!)

I am grateful for a great day, even though almost none of it was what I had planned! And, I am grateful for a loving Father Who made it so...

Thank You, God, for...
  • my car breaking down before I was very far from home/mechanic
  • getting me through the intersection and that it wasn't busy
  • the last parking space right where I needed it
  • the one remaining drive belt being the very one I had to have!
  • my cell phone
  • my friend being willing and able to come help me
  • us getting my car safely to the shop
  • the mechanic being available to work on my car
  • the shop being so close to a nice little town
  • the car show and street fair being today
  • the delightful people at the antique store
  • the charming jeweler I talked with at his store
  • the beautiful sunny day today!
  • an empty bench in the perfect spot
  • the wonderful couple I spent time with
  • the awesome old car parade!!
  • new friends, if only for an afternoon
  • enough money to pay for my car repairs
  • the ability to look at a "messed-up" day and see it for the enjoyable day it really was!
  • the pre-birthday dinner with my friends
  • a great day.
  • perspective.

(And, though I saw no "hearts" today, I clearly heard my Father speak His love for me!)

For these, I am truly grateful! : )

Friday, April 24, 2009

the shapes, patterns, & and textures of creation...

I love to see the amazing shapes and patterns and textures of God's creation. Here is a little taste of joy and wonder from my trip to Palm Springs...

I am always delighted by the ways His creation shows off His incredible love of line and symmetry and shape and creativity... I am grateful for the wonder of it all!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Peace of Wild Things...

The Peace of Wild Things
Wendell Berry, Collected Poems

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. for a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

He makes all things good in His time...

A journalist friend of mine has been writing a series this week on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings. She was able to go to Colorado and visit the school site as well as to interview the Chief Investigator, the Principal--Frank DeAngelis, and the family of Rachel Scott.

I'm sure many of you remember Rachel Scott. She was the first victim killed by the shooters in that terrible tragedy at Columbine High School. Her name was well known among Christian circles (and beyond), as it was believed she was killed because of her faith in God. But, like the eleven other students and one teacher who were killed that day, her death seemed a pointless loss of life.

Ten years later it's only a little bit easier to look back at that horrible day. There was horrific loss and unimaginable grief...for the students and teachers, the parents and families, the entire community. For us, it was one day. For them, it was many, many days...and months...and years of sorting through the emotional rubble. But the years have eased the horror a bit with the distance created by passing time.

As I've read my friend's articles this week, I have thought a lot about that devastating event. I can understand how some would shake a fist at God and ask "Why?!" I cannot begin to understand how it felt to live through it. I am amazed, however, to see and hear of God's work of healing in the family of Rachel Scott... and of how He is using this seemingly completely bad situation to touch the lives of others in a positive way.

Rachel's parents felt that they were to walk forward in the path that Rachel had made in her short life... a path of kindess and compassion toward others, reaching out to the hurting others with a message of love. As a result they started a non-profit organization called Rachel's Challenge, a presentation given in schools and communities across North America and other countries, in a campaign to quell school violence, bullying, and teen suicide. And, though, Rachel's parents would far rather have her with them still, they have seen God's hand at work through Rachel's death, touching hundreds of students with her message... and at times, even saving lives.

Though I don't believe God makes such things happen, I do believe He uses these broken parts of our lives for His purposes. His work of redemption--of saving us from ourselves!--is about our eternal state. But it can also be seen at work in the brokenness of our world here and now. He loves picking up the pieces of our broken lives and putting them back together in new and different ways--maybe not how we would have envisioned--but good and beautiful just the same. I love it when we can get a small glimpse into this redemptive work He performs... the ways in which He makes good things out of the bad in this world.

If you want to see a bit of it yourself, take a few minutes to read the online article Columbine Family Finds Beauty In Ashes. And let us rejoice with Rachel's parents in the wonderful things God does!

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28

another good article today - Remembering Columbine Victim Rachel Scott

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

courage ...


It can mean so many different things to so many people. Mark Twain said it was the mastery of fear, not the absence of it. I've heard it said (don't know by whom exactly) that courage is fear that has said its prayers.

I do know that I have been reminded of it and have seen it several times in the past few days.

Courage was what Frank DeAngelis, Principal of Columbine High School, demonstrated on the day of the school shootings 10 years ago this week. When he heard the shots and saw the shooters, he could have run away from the gunfire, but he didn't. He courageously ran toward the shooters to help some nearby students to safety. Then, after the shootings, he faced accusations and lawsuits made against him personally... and courageously continued to be the principal and to help the students deal with the tragedy they had faced together. (read yesterday's article by my friend Tina Mather)

Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience. ~James Freeman Clarke

I saw courage again a few days ago when I watched the video clip of Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent. (if you haven't seen it already, do take the time to watch the is well worth the 7 minutes! I was in tears.) Though people in the audience were laughing at her from the moment she started walking across the stage, she did not waver. She courageously walked out onto that stage and boldly did what she came to do--spoke her mind, sang her song, and ultimately, made her dream come true.

The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity. ~Rollo May

And, this week I saw incredible courage demonstrated by Miss California, Carrie Prejean, in the 2009 Miss USA Pageant. When she was posed the question of what she thought of gay marriage, she knew the "right" answer. She knew the politically correct response to the question, and she also knew that to give the "right" answer would be so very wrong for her to do. And, so, when faced with the probability of losing the very thing she was there to win --the Miss USA crown-- if she gave the answer she knew to be true, Carrie courageously spoke from her convictions. She courageously told Perez Hilton, all of the folks at the pageant, and all of the US (and the world!) that she disagreed with gay marriage... and, as a result, lost the crown. (I have never been more proud of someone representing our state!!)

Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character. ~Margaret Chase Smith

Each of these people showed true courage. They faced death, ridicule, loss... and in so doing displayed amazing character! I stand in awe of each of them and am proud of each one. May we be inspired by these and so many other acts of courage we see around us every day... deeds both large and small... and may we join them in following the path of courage.

Monday, April 20, 2009

too hot to handle...

...and I'm not talking about Palm Springs!

It was lovely in Palm Springs this weekend--a great time with friends, sunshine, and swimming pools (yes, with an "s"!) I have photos to share, however, they will have to wait for another day or so. Unfortunately, my computer is a bit like me-- getting old and sensitive to high heat!

It's unseasonably hot for April, and I think it was in the lower 90's today! To make a long story short, my 2nd floor west-facing apartment is quite unbearably hot tonight! I could use a bit of this...
mmmmmm..... nice cool snow!
This was the top of the San Jacinto Mtns outside of Palm Springs.

And, since my floor fan is broken, I could sure use a few of these!! : )

Look at the size of those fans!!! (ok, so they're power-generating windmills, but I am envisioning one set up right in my living room!!)

Or a bit of this.... this was part of the pool at the condo we stayed at this weekend. This is the view off the back patio--there was a lovely golf course running along the back of the homes.

Ahhhhh... the sound of waterfalls... gushing water...
cool, flowing water!! (can you hear it??)

And, now, since my computer is just about the temperature it was at the last two times it shut itself off tonight, I close with one last little cool peak (peek?!) from the back yard...

Be cool!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

celebrate the Sabbath... remembering Resurrection Sunday!

Let's celebrate together again this week... and be reminded...

Words and Music by Hamm
(John 3:16, Heb. 10:19-23, Ephes. 2:18)

Sometimes I think about the cross that He endured
Laying down His life unselfishly
And how His suffering means I can rest assured
In His saving grace
Oh when He took our place…

He took the scars, felt the pain
Suffered loss so we could gain
This precious life,
precious love that we are feeling
He took our sin and the fall
Left His hope here for us all
Jesus took the scars
And left us with the healing,
left us with the healing

There is no brokenness that we could ever bring
That would ever be too much for Him to bear
Mistakes and failures don’t mean a thing anymore
That’s what He was dying for…

There was beauty in the tragedy
In His death we found new birth
It was unrelenting love
For every soul on earth
Thank You, Jesus,
for Your unrelenting love!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

orange you glad?

Orange you glad it's Saturday??
Orange you "LOVIN' " it??

My friends who live in Phoenix found this in their grocery bag and were wonderful enough to do as I would-- PHOTOGRAPH it!! They then sent this "love"ly juicy photo to me! My heart is warmed by their message of "love"!

Happy Saturday, all! : )

Friday, April 17, 2009

heaven and earth...

The true object of all human life is play.

Earth is a task garden;

heaven is a playground.

~GK Chesterton

I can't wait to get to heaven to do the "playing" part!! No pain. No sorrow. No heartache. No anything except amazing joy in the very presence of God! What anticipation, what enthusiasm for heaven this brings to mind and heart!

But for the next couple of days, I shall make a small earthly attempt at the "play" part, as I'm off to Palm Springs for the weekend with some friends! Have a great weekend everyone! May you find a small taste of heaven in your play...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

nature's gift...

“Joy in looking

and comprehending

is nature's most beautiful gift.”
~Albert Einstein

...evidence of God's delightful creatures...

...crazy displays of love...

...special 'treasure' (dollars?!)...

...incredible colors!!...

...beautiful night light...

...finding love in unexpected places...