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.

fallbegins043x The trees have grown bigger now and the girls have grown so much taller. My baby barely fits inside a wagon these days! But Lacie the Red Wagon remains constant and faithful in hauling fresh-picked fruit, posing for pictures and helping us make memories. fallbegins 080

“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

 

Also Bloomin’ in My Yard

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Besides the lovely blooming lilac, a Mother’s Day gift of that we planted outside my kitchen window, our yard boasts several other blooming beauties this week.

These tiny blue lobelias make me think of Mama because she adored this shade of blue and also greatly appreciated any hanging basket cascading with flowers.

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Elsewhere in our yard, this sweet bleeding heart continues bloom.

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And the rhododendron bush is suddenly blooming, too!

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Coming soon are the peonies — another favorite scent. This year I am particularly looking forward to the peonies because last fall a friend split hers and gave me half a dozen new ones to grow in our front flower beds. I can hardly wait to smell them!

I Give You My Sprig of Lilac

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In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
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With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
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With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.
…I give you my sprig of lilac.
from the poem “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” by Walt Whitman
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A dear friend gave me this gorgeous bouquet of lilac sprigs this weekend. Oh, what a heaven-sent heavenly scent! Lilacs always remind me of my mama, who has been in heaven for 23 years now. And the bouquet reminded me how much I’ve missed having a common lilac bush the last three years since we moved into this house. And so, because it was Mother’s Day, we headed off to the farm supply store and found a lovely, blooming lilac bush all ready to plant.

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Into the ground it went, just outside the kitchen window where I can see it and remember to set my mind on things above, not on earthly things, as I wash the dirty dishes.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” -Colossians 3:1-4 NIV

Thank You, God, for the lovely lilacs, for my dear friend who knew I needed them on Mother’s Day, and for the hope of heaven. Help me set my heart and mind on things above.

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