A Psalm for Spring

IMG_4922 editWinter is well suited for contemplation.  Spring, I’m reminded lately, is not.  Spring is, rather, for living in the moment, moving constantly from the enjoyment of one beautiful, wonderful thing to the next, trying not to dwell on the fact that you’re probably still missing something wonderful.  Nothing sits still, lingers or waits for you.  There is a great tension of panic and excitement that wells up inside of me at the recognition of this.  I feel a little like my children, oh so impatient to be done with phonics and math, oh so eager to run outside and not miss a single glorious day of this fleeting season.

And to be honest, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing.  I’ve been so busy in my spare time taking pictures of the world exploding to life lately, I’ve had little time to think of composing words to accompany them and little motivation to sit down and apply myself to the task.  This is what happens to severely cabin-fevered Minnesotans after over half a year of winter, I suppose.  Finally, I’ve realized that soon I’ll have more pictures in my files than can ever properly fit in one blog post and I’d better quit waiting around for writing inspiration and just send them out into the world before they’re completely out of date.

Besides, I suspect the words of this ancient Psalm sum it up far better than I ever could.  Welcome to a little glimpse of the glory of spring that I’ve been reveling in.

IMG_4792 edit“How good it is to sing praises to our God, IMG_4926 edithow pleasant and lovely to praise Him!IMG_4939 edit.jpgGreat is our Lord, and mighty in power;IMG_5051 edit.jpgHis understanding has no limit.IMG_4917 edit.jpgSing to the LORD with thanksgiving; IMG_4947 edit.jpgmake music on the harp to our God, IMG_4995 edit.jpgwho covers the sky with clouds,img_5024-edit.jpgwho prepares rain for the earth,

IMG_5030 edit.jpg IMG_5044 edit.jpgwho makes grass to grow on the hills.IMG_5065 editHe sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly.IMG_5068 edit.jpgHe provides food for the animals,IMG_4978 edit.jpgand for the young ravens when they call.IMG_4984 edit.jpgHallelujah!”

(Excerpts from Psalm 147)

On the Fourth Day of Summer…

IMG_9297.JPG…my camera gave to me,

Four tall white trees.

As all poplars know, white never goes out of style, particularly in the summer.

White bark,

white flowers,

white shirts,

white linens,

white dinnerware,

and, for the one victorious in Christ, gloriously, someday,

white robes.

“But you do have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments, and because they are worthy, they will walk with Me in white.  Like them, the one who is victorious will be clothed in white garments. And I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father and His angels.” (Revelation 3:4-5)

 

In case you missed them, here’s the first day, second day and third day!

A Psalm for Spring

IMG_8807.JPGBlessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, IMG_8502-1.jpgnor stands in the way of sinners,IMG_8506.JPGnor sits in the seat of scoffers;IMG_8650.JPGbut his delight is in the law of the Lord,and on his law he meditates day and night.IMG_8554.JPGHe is like a tree planted by streams of waterIMG_8520
that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.IMG_8830In all that he does, he prospers.IMG_8497-1
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.IMG_8352Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
IMG_8236.JPGfor the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

(Psalm 1)

Frosted

IMG_7147.JPGWhen I was a young, aspiring baker, my mother taught me how to frost cookies and cakes.  It’s an experience that I remember with striking clarity because, in her kitchen, not just any frosting job would do.  Frosting (the verb, not the noun) was not merely a job to get done.  It was an art form.

We started with the least fussy of surfaces, a simple 9×13 cake.  She taught me how to spread the frosting evenly, thick to the edges but not quite touching the sides of the pan, never letting your knife touch the actual cake.  If you did it right, there was this beautifully rounded smooth edge to the whole sweet mass.  Then, you went back over the whole thing and made rows of dips or swoops, evenly but quickly so it didn’t look like you tried too hard.  If you did that part right, it looked as effortless and beautiful as the wind-tossed waves of sun-kissed lake.  If you didn’t—well, let’s just say that’s what my first attempts looked like.

From there we graduated to different surfaces, different kinds of frosting.  Whipped cream allowed the greatest abandon of perfection, and was great fun—but one still had to fuss with it a bit, because it still needed to look artsy.  Meringue was where deeper dips were needed to create the desired peaks; extra points if those peaks curled at the tips.  Glaze required wrist flicking, and the artful contriving of “even” drips all around.

Shaped sugar cookies were the final test of my basic skills, and true sign that I was about to graduate.  The technique was just like a cake, only applied with the tippiest-tip of a butter knife, maintaining that smooth rounded edge all around varied curves that included the narrow length of gingerbread arms and complicated crystaled forms of snowflakes.  You never scraped you knife on the edge of a cookie.  That was what the edges of the frosting bowl were for.

Once I’d mastered that, you’d think I’d arrived—but not so!  That’s when I started poring over her folder full of Wilton cake decorating books.  I’d hover around the table with my siblings, watching with fascination as my mom turned the sides of a layer cake into a woven basket and created three-dimensional roses on the end of a giant nail for our picture-perfect birthday cakes.  It was time to advance to a whole new level.IMG_7113.JPGIMG_7130IMG_7128IMG_7135IMG_7109.JPGOn mornings when I wake up to a frosted world, I can’t help thinking back to what it was like learning to frost.  I enjoyed learning, but mastering the techniques certainly didn’t happen overnight.  This refined coating of a thousand minute crystals deposited by a sudden drop in temperature, on the other hand, does.

I love how God makes something we have to work so hard to do right look so stunningly effortless.

“He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes.” (Psalm 147:16)

Fall Color Tour 2017

IMG_5309.JPGSince the leaves are mostly fallen now, I sat down the other day and sorted through all the autumn pictures I’d taken this year.  As I did so, I found it interesting to note the varied locations they were photographed in.  One was from our backyard, another across the front yard.  Some were along familiar trails, others along never-before-hiked trails.  Several were taken deep in the heart of  the Chippewa National Forest.

And then there was that random one taken from the patio of city bistro, along a busy street with multi-storied buildings looming around.  The sheer eccentricity of its location endears it to me in a way the others don’t, a hidden jewel found in a most unlikely location.

That’s kind of how it is with the Psalms.

Just as I generally expect to experience the most stunning autumn color in places like a national forest where trees abound, I naturally turn to the book in the Bible by that title if I’m looking for the most beautiful psalms of praise and comfort.  That makes so much sense, I sometimes forget that there are hidden psalm-like jewels to be found in the other 65 books of the Bible.

But there are, and this week I stumbled upon just such a one, incidentally quite fitting to accompany a post highlighting the changing seasons.  May it turn you heart in gratefulness to the One who orders the changing seasons, just as it did mine!IMG_5062.JPG“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might…
IMG_5335.JPGHe changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings…IMG_5122He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding…
IMG_5238He reveals deep and hidden things, he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him…
IMG_5522To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise…
IMG_5125for you have given me wisdom and might.” IMG_4861-01.JPG And now here’s a little challenge for you, just for fun.  Can you guess 1) in what book of the Bible this passage is found (no peeking or Googling, now!), and 2) which photo was the one taken in the city?  I’ll send a free signed 5×7 print of one of my photos to anyone who provides both correct answers!

 

Fall Color Tour 2016

img_7506Ah, peak of fall.  We just finished that splendid time of year in which they mark little roads around here with signs designating them as part of the “Fall Color Tour”, and if you take one, you should be prepared to drive very slowly.  That is, at least if I’m in the car and have my camera along (wink).

Now, alas, the wind has taken most of them to the ground.  If you missed it, however, you’re in luck—because I did all the hard work for you and took pictures of the best spots.  I hereby invite you to sit back, enjoy a mini tour from the comfort of your chair, and join me in praising the Lord for the autumnal beauty of the earth.  (Not included is the sound of wind rustling through leaves already fallen, the wonder of leaves falling all around like glorious confetti, and the mingled fragrance of gentle autumn sunshine and rain showers.  My apologies; try to use your imagination.)img_7544“Shout joyfully to God, all the earth… img_7534Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious…    img_7423Say to God, “How awesome are Your works!…img_7092All the earth will worship You, and will sing praises to You…img_7180
They will sing praises to Your name….img_7404Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men…img_7384Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad.” (Psalm 66:1-5, 8)

 

For last year’s fall colors, and some fun memories of my grandpa, see here.

 

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September Rain

IMG_7026.JPGI’m hurrying to finish my errands on a gray and rainy day, wishing I had brought an umbrella.  I’m focusing on the heavy clouds and the moisture seeping uncomfortably into my shoes.  I almost missed it.  But the tiny flash of color caught my eye as I passed and I turned back to look.  And there, out of the blue, in the last place a country girl expects to capture the essence of autumn, there’s this single leaf, liquid golden-yellow against a city sidewalk wet with September rain.

Before you know it, I’m running back to my car for my camera, ignoring the great drops splashing on my head as I lean in to capture this one small, brilliant taste of fall—and suddenly grateful for the rain that saturates the colors and makes it shine.  Even in the rain, He gives good gifts, if only we have our eyes open to see—and sometimes they’re all that much better because of it.

“…Rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful…” (Joel 2:23)

 

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