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

 

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Beauty to Behold

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“I do believe that deeply rooted in every human heart is a longing for beauty. Why do we go to the Grand Canyon, the Boundary Waters, art exhibits, gardens? Why do we plant trees and flower beds? …Is it not because we long to behold and be a part of beauty? We crave to be moved by some rare glimpse of greatness. We yearn for a vision of glory.” -John Piper 

Looking for beauty to behold, we made another trip to the arboretum last week. The big sister came along this time and had a turn capturing the gardens with the camera.

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It was the tulips’ turn to shine.

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This orange one was simply radiant in the spring sunshine.

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Tulips long have been a favorite of mine because my mom grew a few of them along the front porch of the house where I grew up.

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Also in bloom were the delicate bleeding hearts. These are another one of my favorites because they remind me of a garden my aunt once had.

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And, speaking of memories, the delightful redbud trees reminded me of the tree my brother and I climbed frequently with the neighbor boys. When playing cops and robbers on our bikes, we pretended the redbud tree was the bank and every leaf was a dollar bill!

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The captivating crabapples are almost blooming, and I’m looking forward to smelling the lilacs soon, too. Isn’t spring like a little glimpse of heaven?

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

Let Heaven and Nature Sing!

Joy to the world! The Lord has come

Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room

And heaven and nature sing!

Joy to you this Christmas!

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Nature sang in 2015 as God blessed us with many memorable outdoor adventures like snowshoeing,

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snow skiing,

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ice skating,

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boating,

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swimming,

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and hiking.

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We delighted in God’s amazing creation while watching Trumpeter swans on the Mississippi River,

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spotting dolphins in the wild in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston,

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feeding wood ducks in the backyard,

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gazing at the gorgeous lilacs

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and the dazzling dahlias at the Arboretum,

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being wowed by a pair of red foxes up on the Gunflint Trail near the Boundary Waters,

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and admiring some of the 18 baby snapping turtles that hatched in our front yard flower bed.

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We tried to subdue some of God’s creatures during our too-close-for-comfort encounters with a snoozing nighthawk,

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bandit raccoons,

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a sleepy bat, an angry squirrel, a peeping goldfinch,

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a topsy-turvey mama snapping turtle, a strong-minded chipmunk and a brave back-to-school mouse that trapped itself inside our basement wall! Eeeek!

We also marveled at God’s wondrous creativity while gazing at the brilliant autumn colors,

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picking juicy apples,

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and plump pumpkins,

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and most recently, while picking a lovely-smelling balsam fir tree to decorate for Christmas.

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Romans 1:20 says,“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Nature clearly points to its wise and powerful Creator. And that lighted Christmas tree in my living room, it points heavenward, toward the Light of the World.

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It points to Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

May we all join heaven and nature in singing our praises to Him this Christmas and throughout 2016!

Merry Christmas!

 

Embracing the Lilacs

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It’s a family tradition to visit the arboretum’s lilac exhibit every spring, just to embrace the beautiful blooms and their lovely fragrance.

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This year, great-grandma comes along, too.

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She and my oldest daughter compare the various lilac blooms.

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My youngest loves the white lilac blooms best.

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Of course, the lilacs aren’t the only blooms at the arb. The tulips look incredible.

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And the magical crabapples are dripping with blossoms.

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The cheerful daffodils dance on the breezy hillside.

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And a few magnolia blossoms still linger for our delight.

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I’ll close with a throwback of me embracing my mama’s lovely lilacs a long time ago.

Now please close your computer or set down your device and go outside! Find something alive and blooming and beautiful to smell!

 

A Warm Winter Day

Partly sunny and 42 degrees — January doesn’t get much better than this in Minnesota.

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We soaked up the warmth at the Arboretum this afternoon — rebelling against winter by taking off our gloves now and then. One of us left her heavy winter coat at home, and another left her coat unbuttoned.

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The girls took turns practicing with the camera.

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The greenhouse felt warm and lush. What a joy to be surrounded by real-live, green, growing plants with leaves! My youngest was determined to do some sketching, and she liked what she saw from this little bench. My oldest, who is studying botany this semester, liked that this is a “please touch” greenhouse, and she especially appreciated the orange trees and herbs.

I especially appreciated these blooms.

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Thank You, God, for the gift of this unseasonably warm January day!

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Captivating Crabapples Win the Day

After our near-meltdown lilac adventure yesterday, we came upon the captivating crabapple trees, all in bloom.

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We saw white ones…

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and light pink ones…

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and dark pink ones.

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They were all in bloom together beneath the bright blue sky.

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The smell was also lovely, though not nearly as noticeable as the lilacs.

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But perhaps the most glorious part of the crabapples in bloom was the abundance of petals. Beneath each tree was a large round carpet of fallen petals.

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They felt more numerous than the confetti in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

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So the girls gathered up a handful or two…

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And tossed them high!

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Also enjoying the beauty of the crabapples was one of our favorite local artists, Jane Ask, who captured the delightful blooms with her oil painting. What a gift to see her work in progress.

And so, with all due respect to the lovely lilacs, the captivating crabapples won the day!

Picnicking and Wilting Amongst the Blooming Lilacs

0001aToday was the first sunny weekday of our summer break, so we dashed off for a picnic lunch at the Arboretum because the lilacs are in bloom.

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And anyone who has ever loved a lilac knows (1) the scent of the blooming lilac is the loveliest scent of all, and (2) lilacs don’t bloom very long!

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The weather was sticky and hot — in the 80s — and most of the lilac blooms were just a smidge past their prime. But surely our noses never knew the difference.

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If only my camera could capture the aroma. Don’t you wish someone would invent digital scents or scratch-and-sniff computer screens?

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Did I mention it was hot and sunny? My youngest daughter nearly wilted. She and her sister found a favorite spot under the taller lilacs, but she made it clear that she was still wilting.

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So, like any good gardener, I found some water for my little bloom and she perked right up!

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For the record, no shoes were lost in the making of this blog post.