Rufous Hummingbird (female)
awake at dawn
darting through strands of mist
out of heaven
~ ~ ~
awake at dawn
darting through strands of mist
out of heaven
~ ~ ~
April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
Why is it that everything looks good on a sunny day? Yesterday DH and I travelled across the Lower Mainland for a family visit, and while he drove, I pointed my camera at anything that caught my attention. And almost everything did. In this mini-travelogue I’m sharing the many sights that made me smile and count blessings.
The approach to Golden Ears Bridge over the Fraser River was heralded on both sides with massive eagle sculptures…
Four smaller golden eagle sculptures adorned both ends of the bridge…
On the other side, masses of daffodils lined the roadway for several kilometres…
… and fresh new greens graced the views in every direction…
Oh, and then there were those mountains…
Many things were seen in passing today, but the best view of all was the reason for our trip… seeing our favourite aunt, home from hospital once again…
Nothing could brighten the day quite as much as her wonderful smile! Thanks for the visit, Aunt Norma! You are a blessing in our lives.
But for those who honor the Lord, his love lasts forever,
and his goodness endures for all generations
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed.
~ ~ ~
There were just two daffodils in our entire yard. I know better than to plant tulips because the deer consider them a gourmet salad mix. But I’ve planted dozens of deer-resistant daffs and narcissus through the years, carefully selecting varieties said to be good naturalizers. The first year several bloom; the next only a few; and from then on I’m lucky if there are any. I just don’t seem to have any luck with them. But I noticed these two daffodils a couple days ago, gamely working their way up through the protection of a rhododendron branch, and I smiled.
Yesterday my hubby handed them to me. We’d had an exceptionally heavy rainstorm, and he found both of them broken, with their sunny faces resting on the ground. I rinsed them off and tucked them into a vase. The sun came out briefly during the afternoon and shone through the window. I couldn’t stop admiring how the flowers looked, basking in the glow. Naturally I reached for my camera and took shots from every angle.
It was only as I reviewed the photos on my computer that I noticed something. I had selected a vase based on its appropriate size, and not paid a lot of attention to which one it was. But the sun’s rays made it glisten, and now my attention was drawn to the beauty I’d overlooked.
We often chuckle at young children who get more pleasure from the box than from the gift inside. Other times we may go overboard and labour over gift wrapping until the exterior of a package is worth more than its contents. In my case, I found joy in sunshine through petals, and only later gleaned equal pleasure from the casually chosen container.
How often do we miss seeing the obvious? And when we miss seeing, we forget thankfulness. And without thankfulness there is no joy.
Not long ago I printed out “A Year of Graces” from Ann Voskamp’s website — a perpetual calendar with lines on which to record those things for which I am thankful each day. On the first page is this statement:
“Joy is always a function of gratitude –
and gratitude is always a function of perspective.
If we are going to change our lives,
what we’re going to have to change
is the way we see.”
Later there is this:
“No one gets to joy by trying to make everything perfect.
One only arrives there by seeing in every imperfection
all that is joy.”
And in that was my analogy, just waiting to be found… the link to writing. I have always affirmed that I enjoy revising my writing. There is such satisfaction in refining to bring forward the best a story can be. Yet many times I struggle with revisions, trying unsuccessfully to find exactly the right words, too often becoming frustrated and disheartened. In retrospect, I think it’s because I’m seeing my failure and overlooking the process… focusing on the results instead of how I achieve them.
I love writing. The thought of not writing fills me with anxiety. I’ve always been better at putting words on paper than in speaking them. How would I express the chaos of unuttered thoughts if not on paper? What would I do with all the story ideas and blog posts if I didn’t let them flow out through my fingertips? Fulfillment comes from the doing, from creative expression, in wrestling thoughts out of the void into a finite place. I’m grateful for the ideas, for the ability to put them into words — however imperfect they may be — for the desire to communicate and the freedom and time to keep trying.
My gratitude prompts thankfulness, which in turn encourages joy to blossom. In those moments when I gather together my efforts and raise cupped hands in a gesture of thankful praise, it is the uplifted hands that are important, not the quality of their less-than-praiseworthy contents.
I have a new work-in-progress that I put aside in favour of revising something older. Lately both have been preempted by a church history project, but it doesn’t matter what I’m working on as long as I approach the task with that attitude of gratitude. There will be joy in the doing.
What small everyday joy will bring thankfulness to your heart today?
“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.”
~ ~ ~
Sending a joyous greeting from my heart to yours this first day of Spring!
Do you have any favourite Spring sayings to share?
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Daylight Saving Time wasn’t a problem for us. My hubby systematically turned all the clocks ahead during the previous evening and we went to bed an hour early without really noticing. Judging by the attendance at church on Sunday morning, however, not everyone fared as well.
There were a number of empty seats, and I overheard a lot of mumbling about lost sleep, the struggle… the reluctance… to get moving in the morning, and more than the usual grumbling about the drizzle after a much-too-brief sunshiny Saturday. Then in the sanctuary I found this exquisite bouquet on the chancel. A small note in the bulletin said it was placed in celebration of a child’s first birthday. I don’t imagine those parents got any more sleep than the rest of us, but they had found a reason for joy and shared it.
The news broadcast last night told the story of a young woman whose joy was to sing. She has developed a rare form of throat cancer and yet she’s found a way to make the best of the situation while she waits for surgery.
I know people who are discouraged and/or depressed for many different reasons, but I also know others who are in equally difficult circumstances but still manage to find something, however small, on which to focus and glean joy. Ann Voskamp, author of ONE THOUSAND GIFTS, has suggested the answer to surviving our bad times is to express thankfulness. It sounds outrageous, I know, but she’s right.
Joy isn’t an emotion, it’s a choice. I remember first hearing that from Sara Frankl. If you don’t know Sara’s story I hope you’ll take the time to check out this Dayspring video, Sara’s Story – Final. For years before she died Sara kept a blog. At a time when she needed much, she gave of herself to everyone she encountered. Her blog is still being maintained by her family, but on its sidebar you’ll find Sara’s own words:
“I’m just a girl who used to write for a magazine to make a living, and now writes a blog to make a life. Extremely blessed, well-loved and choosing joy while learning that homebound doesn’t limit your life, just your location.“
Ann Voskamp talks often about choosing joy, too, and has created a Joy Dare Collection of little cards that you can print out for each month with reminders to search for specific joys each day… to help us make a habit of looking for the tiny moments of joy that otherwise may slip past unnoticed.
As I step into this new week I am once again aware that no matter the circumstances, there is always joy. The choice is mine whether or not I will look for it and be thankful.
How about you? Can you think of at least one thing for which to give thanks today?
Writers know a lot about insecurity, rejection, disappointment and discouragement, but I don’t suppose there is anyone whose life at some time hasn’t dipped into the shadows. The reassurance and confidence expressed in this hymn remind us of God’s promises. He said he would always be here for us even when shadows make it difficult for us to see him. We can depend on that. Great is his faithfulness!
His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.
How’s your week going? Some of you have been particularly on my mind, so this is just a bit of mid-week encouragement to keep you going until Sunday rolls around again.
~ ~ ~
Friday’s drive in the fog reminded me of the scripture verse, “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.”* Nothing was clear as fog muted everything in a blanket of grey.
I almost missed it!
And then… ah, then, moments later, not “through a glass darkly”, but in a “face to face” reality… there on the grass right beside us at the edge of the road, a second Great Blue Heron, hunched and still, hoping for lunch to appear in the murky waters of the rural waterway.
Herons are non-migratory here in the Pacific Northwest, and are classified as a species at risk in BC. There are large heronries in the University of British Columbia and Stanley Park areas of the Lower Mainland. A few visit our marsh from time to time, but I’ve never managed to get a good shot of one. This time we pulled to a stop and sat quietly in the van while I snapped several through the open window. I won’t bore you with all of them, but surely I can be excused for a few more…
Herons will stand motionless in icy water or overgrown fields for long periods, waiting, watching, prepared to strike when the opportunity finally comes. The long neck unfolds with lightening speed at precisely the right moment to snatch up an unsuspecting meal.
I was prepared, too. I wasn’t watching for anything specific, but I was watching. Certainly, I didn’t anticipate seeing a heron. But my camera was on the seat beside me, ready for a quick grab to capture anything of interest.
Of course there’s a writing application here, too, but I don’t think I have to spell it out, do I?
Have you encountered any surprises lately that have found their way into your writing?
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Bits and blobs of leftover snow clung to branches. There hadn’t been much… less than an inch… but the temperature hovered near zero (celsius) most of the week so it was slow to melt.
Then, just as the last trace disappeared from barren branches, the sky sprinkled fine snow and dusted everything fresh white again.
The winter’s first brief visit from a Spotted Towhee completed my day. A flick of his tail and he was gone again, but the fleeting gift left me smiling.
~ ~ ~
I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day,
a fresh try, one more start,
with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
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