Change in the Air

Pulled on my fall flannel, for the first time this year;

And jeans, snug and comforting.

After a quick drive, and a few steps, I’ve been transported.

Sounds of a chorus of buzzing bugs set my pace.

Deep breaths of fresh air filled my lungs, providing a new rhythm;

Calming my anxious mind and relaxing my body.

Soft and slow ripples in the water flowed towards me, a welcome to rest.

The lushness of summer’s greens has been infiltrated with reds and yellows.

Signals that time is moving to a new season.

Like the foliage before me, life finds a way of providing signs.

Am I walking slowly enough to pay attention?

To hear what’s in the whisper of the wind?

Am I seeking intimacy with my Creator to notice his nudgings?

With the aroma of change in the air,

The sun sets on another day.

A chance to reflect. To confess, to worship, to pray.

To welcome a posture of openness to God’s direction.

To be led by Him, looking for his signals; be they red, green, or yellow.

Every hard lesson after hard lesson, I find;

His way, especially in the waiting, is best.

Psalm 73

23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.


Sights and Sounds of Summer

It’s been a very different summer. And yet, in so many ways, it’s still the same. The sights and sounds of summer have made their seasonal appearance, a comforting reminder of the persistence of life.

The sights and sounds of summer have made their seasonal appearance, a comforting reminder of the persistence of life.

The rumble of thunder from a summer storm. The waves of cicadas buzzing each morning and evening.

This weekend, on a leisurely stroll, I came upon some peaceful sights. They were not the most stunning scenes— in comparison to my days on the water or hiking or traveling (remember when we could travel?!). But they were welcoming and lovely, even in their imperfection and messiness.

The beauty of a butterfly—with a broken wing no less—brought much joy. The happy—albeit disheveled—black-eyed susan’s stirred delight.

The blessing of a quiet walk sparked a smile of gratitude.

Seasons of suffering make these simple things—even a simple step outdoors—all the more sweeter.

Seasons of suffering make the simple things all the more sweeter.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭

Soak up the sights of summer. Enjoy creation. Learn from the rhythms of life, especially the times of hardship. They make the joy that much more precious.

Here’s to an August of treasured enjoyment of the sights and sounds of the fading summer. And many more gorgeous sunsets!


The Whispers of Wildflowers

I’ve been day-dreaming about wildflowers. They show up in unexpected places on adventures with my four-legged companions.

‘I will believe in my beauty even if no one else sees it’
That’s what the wildflowers whisper
These lilies dance to the music of a soft breeze
No one is watching or listening
But me
An interloper and yet also welcomed in their presence
I marvel at them in their solitary splendor
In a landscape of a hundred shades of green
Their fire burns brightly

They are free
To simply be,
Beautiful

I will believe in my beauty even if no one else sees it.

We admire these beauties along the bay. A summer afternoon of delight.

The boys are always on the move; it’s a challenge to document a picture of the three of us!

It’s a perfect evening for patrolling the shoreline.

And swimming. It’s always a perfect time for swimming.

The sun sets but the warmth of the memories made flows through me.

We slowly ramble home, ready for rest and dreaming of the next adventure.

And the wildflowers remain, basking in the fading summer sun.

When a flower grows wild it can always survive
Wildflowers don’t care where they grow.” – Dolly Parton


Nature is real

Have you ever questioned reality? Do you ever find yourself saying “this isn’t real.”

I do.

We live in a world that is filled with things that are not real.

Social media.

Plastic surgery.

Porn.

Even the news?

We are now all familiar with the term fake news. It gets thrown around a lot, but there is truth to it. The other day, I read a story from Axios on how 2020 campaigns are not prepared for “deepfakes” – fake videos that are manipulated to make a candidate appear to be giving a damaging statement.

These fake things can have an extremely negative impact on us. Individually and culturally.

Take social media – it is not real life. It is a curated portrayal of one’s life. And yet we consume it constantly, allowing our brains to be manipulated by it. Our mental health, attention span, human connectedness, memory, sleep quality all suffer from it – something that isn’t real.

So what is real?

With the summer weather upon us, I have been reminded of the reality of nature.

Nature is real.

It is beautiful and refreshing.

You can physically touch water, grass, leaves.

It is truly, real and healing in a world of fakeness.

This summer, let’s put our phones away and sit by a lake. Delete Instagram for a week (or join me for all of summer!) and go for a hike – put your hand on some moss, toss a rock in a stream, touch the bark of a tree.

Get connected with what is real, and forget what is fake.

(And even better, take a friend with you and have an honest conversation about life!)

Spending time in nature is one of the most grounding things we can do. Why not give this a try as some personal therapy – it’s free!

Your mind and body will thank you. Trust me, mine has.


Some of the places that have been inspiring me this spring and summer!

The Fullness of Time

Merry Christmas!

I’m thinking of my time in Israel today.  I neglect this blog far too much, and have not even found time to write about my incredible trip to the Holy Land, but here are some pictures from Bethlehem, where our Creator, Lord, and Savior came to this earth, in the flesh, as a humble servant!

Israel 2014 281

Church of the Nativity, built upon the spot where tradition claimed Jesus to have been born.

Israel 2014 288

Israel 2014 270

The hillsides of Bethlehem

 

Israel 2014 240

One of my favorite Scripture verses about Christ’s birth is written by Paul in his letter to the Galatians.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons [and daughters].”

From the very beginning, when God created the Heavens and Earth, he set the world in motion so that his Son would be born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem at the appointed time. God sent His son to send Him to the cross to redeem His children from our sin.

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The Garden of Gethsemene on the Mount of Olives.

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Skull Hill, otherwise known as Golgotha, or Calvary in English–the hill where many Christians believe Christ gave his life for us on the Cross. A bus stop sits next to it.

The gifts under the tree tonight are wonderful gifts, but the gift of salvation is the sweetest one of all!

Advent Now and 'Till He Returns

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” – Micah 5:2

I’m not an Old Testament scholar, but from what I understand, 400+ years transpired between the prophet Micah’s prophecy –  that the awaited King, the Son of God, would be born in Bethlehem. This is just one of the many prophecies that the people of Israel were waiting upon to be answered.
But God was faithful and He sent His Son to earth. The years leading to the time may have been dark, and filled wih questioning of his intent but The Lord fulfilled his promises.
The beauty of Christmas is celebrating the birth of our Savior and treasuring that season of Advent – of waiting for Him. Let’s not forget we are now in another stage of waiting – for His return. The world is dark and evil, but our Savior – who came to earth as both God and man- has a perfect plan for all of history. His birth was foretold and The Lord knows when he will come again.
We can’t lose hope, but must press on for His Kingdom. His Birth is cause for reflection and celebration as his period of Advent concludes. May our hearts always be in a state of Advent for his second coming.

 

Morning Glory

I knew it had been a long time since I did an updated blog post, but almost a year!?!?! Where does the time go?  Life was so slow and wonderful when I was a child…there is still much wonderful-ness to my life but…there are also children being murdered with chemical weapons in Syria, Christians in the Coptic community in Egypt are being killed and their churches burned, and musical entertainment in this country has reached a new low.  Sigh, okay, sorry for the downer, but we can’t keep our head in the sand!

Being a news, history, and culture junkie, I can’t keep from getting sucked into the headlines and analysis.  Unfortunately, that has left little time for my little blog!  Hopefully this should change.  I’ve already got a really fun post in the works, so stay tuned…

In the meantime, I wanted to share these lovely photos of a beautiful sunrise this morning in the Nation’s Capitol…because, well, they’re beautiful!  I’ve seen many late nights at the Capitol, but I’m not often out this early to start the day!  Many years ago, when I was a young pup working in Congress, I gave Capitol tours (history heaven for someone like me!) and would always point out that Lady Freedom atop the Capitol dome faces east – thus, “the sun never sets on freedom.”  I always thought that was so poetic and a reminder of how blessed we are in America!

But this beauty invokes another kind of poetry that will never fade – from Lamentations chapter 3, verses 22-23: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  That is cause for joy!  No matter what else we might face.

The Colors of Fall

How many colors belong in the palette for fall foliage?

This past weekend, as I drove back to D.C. from a beautiful wedding of dear friends in Buffalo, New York, that was the question on my mind.  For about 5 hours I drove through the Allegheny Mountains in PA and the colors were G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S.  And it was such a pleasant surprise, for all the time I’ve spent in my beloved Pennsylvania (including lots of hours of driving) I was not familiar with this drive so it was fun to see some new sights!

I found an absolutely quaint and picture perfect roadside stop where I picked up some pumpkins. It was soooooooo beautiful. That’s probably annoying and obnoxious to read, huh? I mean, really how many “o”s do I need? Well, try spending anytime in nature with me…every single o is needed for emphasis!

The best part, though? 2 large pumpkins, 3 small pumpkins, 5 gourds, and 3 ears of fall corn…all for $17!

So I was just going to post 1 picture, but the colors are just too vibrant and gorgeous not too share!

Have a wonderful fall!

Christmas in the OBX

Snow on the beach is a very funny thing – actually, it’s quite beautiful! While tradition is comforting, and I’m so thankful to have spent most of my Christmases at home with my family, it was really a neat experience to spend Christmas in Duck, North Carolina. We went out to the beach three different times – at sunset, to see the stars, and to see the snow!

The sunset was beautiful – not exactly the vibrant colors you might see during the summer, but beautiful pale blues, pinks, and purples. Our God is amazing with watercolors in the sky!

Nigtht-time was equally magnificent. Earlier in the evening we stepped out on the porch of our beach house (well, one of the four decks!) to see the stars, and they were absolutely vibrant. That was actually Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like on the night of our Savior’s birth. What would it have been like to have been a lowly shepherd out in the field, to have an incredible host of angels visit you declare the arrival of the King? What would it have been like to have seen the awaited star of Bethlehem?

Later we walked down to the beach that night – the stars weren’t as vibrant because the moon had lit up the dark sky. In fact, we could see our shadows the moon was so bright! The waves were powerful and never missed a beat. It was an awe-inspiring reminder, the the God of the universe, who created the stars and the moon – which controls the oceans – also cares for, and loves me.

On Sunday, the 26th, we were snowed in! When the blustery winds had subsided, a few of us went out to the beach to see the snow and sand mixture. It was quite a sight – incongruous yet beautiful. Although I must say, I prefer sand when the sun is out, and the thermometer is far north of 20 degrees!

The beauty of the beach brought peace to my soul. It helped me to remember the absolute audacity of Christ coming to the world he created as a human – a mortal, yet without sin. One of the lines from Hark the Herald Angels sing, especially stuck out to me during our family’s makeshift church service in our beach house on Christmas Eve – “born to give us second birth!” He was born to die – to die and be raised again, so that I – you – we, can know Him as Savior and have our sins washed from us – like the pure-driven snow I witnessed on the beach.