Florida’s Beautiful Things

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This past week my family went on a vacation to  Florida for my grandparents’ 60th anniversary party. It was truly a wonderful celebration and such a blessing to spend time with family (some of whom I hadn’t seen in many years). Now that I’m back in Sweet Home Alabama, I’m realizing some of the beautiful things that Florida taught me. Here’s a few:

Home changes.

I was born in Florida, and for years after moving to Alabama, Florida still felt like home when I visited there. Now it no longer does. Florida feels like memories, but those memories don’t make me sad anymore, because I’m happy to be living somewhere else.  It’s a strange feeling when your heart settles in a new location, but it finally happened. Alabama feels more like home.

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Cheaha State Park, the highest point in Alabama

Who you’re with matters more than where you are.

My family was blessed to be able to stay at a resort in Orlando for a few days. It was a lovely resort, with pools and beautiful flowers (more on those later), but my favorite thing about our stay there was that my brother and his precious family stayed at the condo with us.  Family makes a place special, and we got to make many sweet memories, including a  day trip to the beach. Don’t you just love those smiles? :)

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Three of the five

Screened-in porches are a taste of heaven.

My sister and I slept on the screened-in back porch of the condo. This was a great arrangement since a) there were too many of us to all sleep inside and b) I was captivated by the idea of sleeping outside, regardless. It was a great place to have some quiet time, with the peaceful sound of the fountain bubbling in the nearby lake. Even when it was raining, I could still enjoy the outdoors.

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I truly love flowers.

My dad loves to tease me about my fascination with photographing flowers. I just can’t help it! They’re too beautiful. :)

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Childhood friends are something to cherish.

While in my hometown, I was able to spend the day with a friend that  I haven’t seen in years. Bethany and I have been friends since childhood, and it was wonderful to get caught up on each others’ lives and talk about great memories that we made.

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Going back to places that are dear to your heart is good.

But coming back home to where God has you now is even better.

Treasure the memories.

Continue the friendships.

And allow Him to lead you on this grand adventure called life.

How about you…What are some beautiful things that you’ve learned lately?

Of Backyard Surprises

Rock & Cherry Tree

Sometimes the most delightful surprises are only a few steps away.

You just have to open your eyes to see them.

This happened to me yesterday as I was sitting on the big rock in my backyard (one of my favorite places to read a book). I glanced toward the woods and caught a glimpse of a shady spot that I’d never noticed before.

IMG_7323Jumping off the rock (not from the top of it! ha ha), I ran across the grass to see if it was as delightful as I hoped it would be. Sure enough, the tulip tree branches overhead made a perfect shade from the July sun.

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It’s a delightful place to nestle with a notebook and a pen, and start scribbling a poem or two.

Sandles & Sunshine

It’s here, sitting under a canopy of leaves, swatting bugs, and breathing the humidity, that I feel alive. It’s here that I notice the beauty of small things, such as a butterfly landing in my neighbor’s garden, or the comforting feel of having the hard earth beneath me.

Nope…I’m not a hippy.

But I do love creation, because my Maker loves His creation too. He clothes the lilies. Feeds the sparrows. He knows all the stars by name.

Surely it blesses Him when we delight in what He has made.

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I’m thankful for my Father’s world today. And also for this song, because it’s true.

Where do you best enjoy Creation?

My Dear Piano (a silly post)

Sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh.

When I hear a piano that sounds like this….

It’s hard not to cringe, even if it is my very first piano ever. {awwww….}

Now….before you judge my dear piano too much, I’m gonna defend it.

Sure it’s almost an antique, and it might sound like a steel drum, but it’s not that bad. Personally, I think the scuffed wood, peeling felt, and missing knob, etc., adds to its charming personality. And all pianos should have plenty of personalty (just saying).

Alrighty, so yes, I’m in a silly mood.

But in all seriousness, I have hope for this piano. All it needs is a piano tuning (or two) and some tender loving care.

Maybe.

Time will tell, and I’ll keep you posted with future songs if I’m correct.

Regardless, I’m thankful for it. And I’m thankful for my dad and brother who courageously moved it in all its awkward glory.  I’m also thankful for my oldest brother who cleaned all the keys, and for our friend who scoured the Internet to find out how old it is. (It was born in ’67, just so ya know.)

Everyone has been so helpful.

It’s already getting the tender loving care it so deserves.

Welcome to your new home, dear piano. I like you already.

My New Piano

A Little of Summer’s Beauty

photo from www.imgfave.com
photo from www.imgfave.com

I’ll be honest…It feels like I haven’t written much in my beautiful things journal lately.  It’s not that there aren’t beautiful things to remember, it’s just that sometimes it’s hard to find words for them. Some beautiful things are best kept tucked away in my heart. And that, in itself, is a beautiful thing.

A Little of Summer’s Beauty

tickets to Israel
{a very beautiful thing!}

reading the beginning of Genesis in Hebrew

♫ The Power of Your Love ♫

a bright, cheery bedroom

teaching Sharon to knit

sticking flowers in friends’ hair

Amy Grace playing hymns

a bird perched on the bay window

soft, warm lighting

being a daughter at home

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What beautiful things are you thankful for today?

The Simple Things

His Mercies are New
photo from pinterest.com

I don’t know what my future will look like.

But I know this much–I want to live a life of simplicity.

Simplicity means walking with my Savior day by day, allowing Him to lead me through life.

It means letting go of my complicated worries and trusting His perfect plan.

It means getting rid of what’s crowding out my life–all the unnecessary wants and desires and fears–to focus on what matters.

It means delighting in simple things, because sometimes those are the most important things.

It doesn’t mean that life will be easy–because, let’s be honest, it isn’t–but it means that it will be livable by His strength.

There’s nothing wrong with big dreams and big accomplishments, but those only come after a lot of simple things have been done. Day to day life is full of simple victories. Every time we choose to do the right thing or speak the right words, we have done something great.

And perhaps one day, we’ll see how all the simple things we did each day were bigger than we’d ever dreamed.

What do you think?

When My Words are Small

photo from pixshark.com
photo from pixshark.com

Hey y’all?

How was your week?

This post is a little different than normal, because I just feel like chatting today.

I love writing on this blog, but some days I stare at the screen and wonder what on earth to say. Most of the time it’s not that I lack things to say, it’s just that I don’t know whether it’s worth saying.

I love words, but words are so small.

They’re too tiny to explain the vastness of the Creator of heaven and earth. I can’t comprehend His love for me. I can’t even begin to appreciate all that Yeshua Messiah sacrificed to save my soul, and how He lived and died and rose again so that all may live in Him.

I can’t capture the beauty of the world around me and fully express the joy that overflows my heart sometimes, and makes me happy just to be alive. And I can’t share the heartbreaking moments either, when I’m a crying mess, because…well…those are personal, and this blog is not the right place to share them. And yet, I try to share bits of these moments on this blog, hoping–and knowing–that they do encourage others.

My words will always be small, because Yahweh is so much bigger.

And that is a beautiful thing.

Fullness of Joy (and other beautiful things)

photo by my sister Sharon
photo courtesy of my sister Sharon

Sometimes I’m not joyful. Sometimes I’m ungrateful. I can come up with some pretty good excuses for being grumpy sometimes, but still I feel that longing of my soul to “snap out of it” and focus on all the beautiful things in life. Sometimes I need reminded of this verse:

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Sometimes I have to ask myself hard questions.

Do I let Him lead me in the paths of life?

Do I find fullness of joy in His presence?

My heart longs for life to be perfect, for everyone to get along, and for every day to be showered in sunshine. But this doesn’t happen. At least, not everyday. And as long as I’m living in this broken world, life will never be “perfect.” There will always be a storm cloud looming in the distance, or a worry in my heart that I need to deal with. There will always be tears. And there will always be myself. And myself drives me crazy sometimes.

But you know what?

There will always be fullness of joy.

At His right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Only when I put Him in center view can I see this. Only then can I delight in the simple beauties of life, no matter how small they may seem.

Today I want to find fullness of joy in Him. Today I want to focus on the beautiful things. Today I want to be thankful.

So without further adieu, here are some beautiful things:

new friends that feel like old friends

the sweet scent of honeysuckle

♫ Morning Light ♫

muddy little hands and feet

looking at the world upside down

green leaves against blue sky

hands folded in prayer

shoes that can survive anything

♫ This Little Light of Mine ♫

seeing the bright, full moon through the kitchen window

handmade cards

wearing a jacket in May

French braids

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smiles that can’t be tamed

cold, damp grass beneath my feet

This song–especially this line:

♫ You are everything that is beautiful.
You are all that I long to see in me ♫

Now it’s your turn…What are some simple beauties of life?

Surrender is Freedom

photo from elevateideas.com
photo from elevateideas.com

Sometimes I think we forget how small and fragile we humans really are.

Sometimes I think we forget how much Yahweh is in control, and how much we can let go and trust Him.

Sometimes I think we forget what freedom feels like, because sometimes we forget what freedom is.

There’s a philosophy skipping around in our heads, and consequently our lives, telling us that freedom is following our hearts. Freedom is finding our own truth. Freedom is being independent, making our own decisions. But true freedom isn’t about us. It’s all about Him, the Maker of our hearts, the One who holds the stars in his hands.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

True freedom comes when we realize the Maker loves us and knows us better than we do. God is smarter than we are. He has a plan for each of us that is greater than we could ever imagine.  It’s only when we surrender our fears and doubts, and accept His direction in our lives that we can know true freedom.

photo from pinterest.com
photo from pinterest.com

It is only in letting go of the idols in my life that it is well with my soul.
It is only in finding the One who made me that I truly find myself.

So why do I battle the Maker of the universe?
Why do I challenge the Master storyteller, insisting that I can write a better version of my life than He already has?
Why do I cross my arms when my heavenly Father is reaching out to me?
Why do I close my eyes when His truth is all around me?

Fear and doubt never want me to surrender. They remind me of the pain of letting go, but they forget to tell me of the joy. They forget to remind me of the closeness that I feel to my Savior when I put Him first. They refuse to dazzle me with the truth of what surrender really is.

Surrender is freedom.

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photo from mandysantos.com

Perhaps there’s something in your life that you know you must surrender. It terrifies you to think of letting go, pestering your heart and haunting you at night.

Don’t let fear and doubt win. Trust your heavenly Father. Know that He loves you. He’s leading you, and He wants what is best for you.

Don’t fear surrender.

Embrace its freedom, and discover its joy.

You won’t ever regret it.

What can you surrender today?

Something New: Cherry Tree Poet

Cherry Tree Poet

As I’ve mentioned before,  I’ve recently discovered a fascination for poetry.

I love the way that words sing and my heart sings along too.

I love free verse and rhyme.

I love long, well-crafted poems that leave me in awe of my Creator who spoke melodies and words and rhythms into existence.

And even though I know very little about poetry, I’m not going to let that stop me from trying my hand at it too.

Thus I have started the Cherry Tree Poet.

It’s my adventure into the world of poetry, and a journal of some of the random poems that I will write along the way. At the moment it seems that I’m only capable of short poems, but perhaps that’s the best place to start. So in addition to this blog, you can also find me happily scribbling little poems on the Cherry Tree Poet.

Here’s one of my favorites so far: Heart in the Sky

Heart in the Sky

How about you…Do you like writing poetry? What’s your favorite verse form?

Unbroken

photo from www.awardcircuit.com

Last week I watched the movie Unbroken with my  family.

I suddenly felt selfish for every time I’d ever complained about my little troubles in life.

I’ve never floated on a raft on the Pacific Ocean for 47 days, battling starvation, storms, and sharks.

I’ve never been that close to death or been through the horrors of war.

Louis Zamperini’s story is dark. It’s real. But it’s also beautiful in a heartbreaking way.

It’s the ending that touched me the most (although the movie doesn’t highlight it much).

After all the darkness and nightmares and scars,  Loius Zamperini found God.

He felt the redeeming power of forgiveness and shared it with others.

He visited Japan and forgave his prison guards in the POW camp.

He lived to the bold age of 97 and  died with peace in his heart.

This is the type of story that knocks me off my feet and shoves my selfishness in my face.

Today I don’t want to complain, y’all.

I just want to be thankful for life. For the endless blue sky above. For the birds chirping in the treetops. For the songs my siblings sing together. For the breeze kissing my face.

Today is for living, not complaining.

Today is for thankfulness.

Today is unbroken.

Full song here: This is Just So Beautiful

How about you…What are you thankful for today?