My Sandpipers

“My Sandpipers”

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Along the water’s edge

Toward the shallows they run

With long and graceful legs

Chasing the waves and sun.

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Then away from the waves

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They turn and sometimes fly

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Playful in their searching

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Sand, shells and sunset sky.

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“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises… What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 1:5, 9

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Because His Love is Better

“He gives snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down His crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before His cold?” —Psalm 147:16-17

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Some days the complaints about winter weather pile up faster than snowflakes around here. Grumbling comes easy when the outside air hurts my face and my hands are dry, cracked and bleeding. Weariness and discontentment can deepen as I clear the driveway and sidewalk.

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But someone has kindly pointed me to Psalm 63. And the words in verse 3? They melt me.

“Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.”

Can my dry, chapped lips glorify God while they grumble and complain about the cold and snow He sends?

Can my heart truly believe that His steadfast love is better than life? Why does my heart doubt His goodness in sending the weather?

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“Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.”

I put on these words and wear them close, like a layer of Under Armor insulating my prone-to-wander heart.

Then I take a walk in the fresh snow.

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I stop now and then to take a picture. Fresh air and photography help me re-focus my heart and be more watchful of His goodness, His grace, His love. Each beautiful flake of snow is worthy of pondering closely.

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“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

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God is always good and His steadfast love endures, even the thermometer reads -31 degrees F like that Sunday morning back in December.  And even when it’s -31 degrees, I can still be thankful and trust the One who sends that cold. Because the One who sends the cold, He is the One who provides what I need to keep warm. Warm socks, hot tea, fire in the fireplace. He provides. And His love never fails.

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“For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, His mighty downpour.” Job 37:6

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“By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.” Job 37:10

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Another day I walk across the lake. And walking on water, albeit frozen, tests my faith. I’m inclined to question every step, but God reminds me to trust Him.

“Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

Trust builds with each thank-You prayer. So I thank Him for the sunshine and fresh air. I thank Him for a quiet morning. I thank Him for guiding me step by step.

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In the marsh, the cattails capture a soft, shiny glow in their fluff.

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And there on the frozen lake the light catches on the flakes, and the snow sparkles — as if someone has scattered little diamonds across it, shiny little treasures waiting to be found.

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“Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.” Psalm 63:3

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The Trees Sing for Joy

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Whether we’re driving to town or just peering out the front door, the phrase I say and hear over and over lately is “Oh, wow! Look at THAT tree!”

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The sun splashes its light, and the leaves glow warm shades of golden yellow, fiery red and blazing orange. Take a short walk on a fall day and you can’t help but stumble into the endless gallery of God’s gorgeous handiwork.

All this color in the trees brings me joy because it is the work of His fingers. He is an amazing Artist. And so as I say my joyful “Oh, wow!” the vibrantly colored trees seem to sing out in response, “Yes, God is amazing!”

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Joy is the art of God, says author Ann Voskamp. Let us praise the Artist for His joy-giving work. Let us receive the gift with thanks and acknowledge the Giver. To Him be the glory forever.

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“All beauty is only a reflection. And whether I am conscious of it or not, any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of His face to which I bow down. Do I have eyes to see that it’s Him and not the thing?” -Ann Voskamp

 

 

Watchful and Thankful

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” 

-Colossians 4:2

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On this beautiful October day, I am thanking God for all the evidence of His glory that surrounds us in nature and for the many gifts He’s given this past week.

I am thankful for a quiet hike through the woods.

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I am thankful for the leaves above glowing all golden in the warm sunshine.

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I am thankful for the leaves below that softly crunch as our boots shuffle through them.

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I am thankful for the cute pair of just-the-right-size rain boots a dear friend gave to my youngest.

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I am thankful for the cheerful Black-Eyed Susans still in bloom.

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I am thankful for the fallen tree that makes a good resting spot.

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I am thankful for the little collection of leaves my oldest carefully gathers up to treasure.

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I am thankful for the lemon-verbena that smells oh-so delightful.

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I am thankful for the dazzling dahlias in bloom.

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Oh, the dahlias make me smile big!

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I am thankful for bright orange pumpkins and bright-eyed girls with big smiles, too.

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I am thankful for our annual family outing to the apple orchard.

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I am thankful for the girls’ favorite wagon, Lacie, and all the memories it holds.

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I am thankful for the delicious harvest of apples to fill our pies and dumplings.

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I am thankful for the pumpkin patch nearby and determined pursuers of perfect pumpkins.

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I am thankful for God’s amazing creation and how it points to His goodness and glory.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17

 

Apple Pickin’ with Lacie

Re-posting this because it’s apple season again! Happy pickin’!

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One of our favorite traditions every fall is a field trip to the orchard a few miles down the road. We always go to pick Haralson and McIntosh apples for baking apple pies. But I really can’t tell you about our annual apple adventures without telling you about Lacie the Red Wagon, a faithful companion throughout most of our family’s 10 year history of apple picking.

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The first year we went apple picking as a family of four, my youngest was not yet walking, and so Lacie the Red Wagon helped haul her around the orchard. DSC_0855 She loved getting to chew on her very own apple, and legend has it that she ate the entire thing, stem and all.

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My oldest wasn’t quite 4 then and still preferred that we regularly address her as “Cinderella,” but she could already reach a few apples to pick right off the trees.

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I don’t remember exactly when or how it happened, but somehow the girls decided finding Lacie the Red Wagon among the fleet of more than a dozen wagons at the orchard was essential in our annual apple picking adventures.

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One year, the girls’ great-grandma came all the way from Oklahoma to visit us during apple season, and the girls were sure excited to introduce her to Lacie.

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Another year, my youngest was thoroughly enjoying a crunchy, fresh-picked apple in the orchard until she realized her wiggly tooth was suddenly missing — as in completely-never-to-be-found-because-she-swallowed-it lost.

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That was quite upsetting, and thankfully the wagon was able to console her with a ride as she adjusted to her new smile.

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Her sister’s teeth, meanwhile, were safely secured with braces.

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The next year, the smiles had changed again.

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Now my youngest is almost 9 and quite an experienced apple picker.

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My oldest is still delighted to help pick and especially enjoys climbing into the trees and up the trees.

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“Keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye.” Proverbs 7:

Poppin’ Pink Peonies

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Oh, I just wish you could smell my peonies. Their scent is sweeter than honey and a hundred times as alluring as popcorn!

They start so small and round.

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But then they grow and grow and grow.

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Praise God for making such a glorious flower! Did I mention how much I wish you could smell them?

What’s blooming in your yard?

“We should live every day of our life promoting the glory of God.” -John Calvin

 

Swans on a Lonely Lake

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A quartet of swans stopped by our little lake this morning. They came with no pointe shoes and no concert suite composed by Tchaikovsky. But they did move across the watery stage nearly as graceful as ballerinas.

At first sight of them, I dashed down to the dock with my camera in hopes of capturing a few pictures of my favorite water fowl. When I made it down to the water’s edge, I could not see them and feared I had somehow frightened them away. Feeling confused, I headed back up the hill towards the house. But then part of the way back, I turned and caught of glimpse of them gliding away from the reeds and cattails and toward the middle of the lake.

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By the time I reached the lake, the swans were in clear view and coming toward me. I snapped a few pictures and then sat down at the end of the dock. The swans kept coming closer, trumpeting to each other.

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I kept clicking the shutter release button, and each bird kept posing as if to say, “Why yes, of course you should photograph me. Don’t I look stunning on this beautiful May morning?”

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“The sky,” he wrote on his slate, “is my living room. The woods are my parlor. The lonely lake is my bath. I can’t remain behind a fence all my life…”

― Louis the swan writing to the Head Man in charge of the birds at the Philadelphia Zoo in E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan