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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

It’s the practice of many churches to have a sunrise service on Easter morning.  There is something symbolic and meaningful to see the dawning of a new day and know that it is the day we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

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The sun is just rising above the trees.

This year I had a different type of sunrise service.  It was held on the back porch of our cottage and instead of sitting in a pew I was sitting in a rocking chair.  Instead of being all dressed up I was in my pajamas.  🙂 The porch faces South-East and I was able to enjoy a beautiful view of the sun coming up through the trees.

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It’s now daylight.

I sat quietly listening to the birds singing for a while and then decided to listen to a song that seemed appropriate,  Allegri Misere.   I played it on my laptop so I could see the pictures and the words.  It is sung in Latin, but this particular video shows the words in English as well.

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Getting Brighter

For me there are two things which touch my soul and cause me to worship the Creator  –  the sounds of nature and certain music.  As I listened to this worshipful song which was accompanied by the chirping birds I realized that I was hearing two beautiful things which can help my heart and soul to worship God at the same time.

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My Cathedral in the Forest

There are also two places that I feel closest to the creator–in the woods and in a Cathedral.  ( I know, they are vastly different, but they both have a profound affect on me. ) As I was watching the words on the video and the stunning pictures of cathedrals, I realized I was also seeing two things that bring me into a worshipful place.  I literally had my Cathedral in the middle of a forest.

I may not have gone to any ‘official’ sunrise service, but I was able to worship the risen King in a very real way  –  possibly more than if I’d been in an organized service.

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Can’t you FEEL the emotion on her face?

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Leaf Trail (aptly named) 

 

Often in life our plans change due to unforeseen circumstances.  It can be difficult to adjust to the new directions we are forced to follow, but once in a while Plan “B” isn’t a bad direction at all.  This past weekend we finally had a spring-like day and my husband and I were anxious to spend time on our mountain bikes on a local trail.  There are a TON of trails near our cottage and we are just beginning to explore them.  While I still prefer road biking, I’m quickly developing a love for riding through the mountain trails.  For me it combines two great loves – hiking and biking.  It’s like hiking on wheels.

 

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Ready to hit the trail

 

 

We rode up a big hill just to get to the trail head and we excitedly started down the trail.  Some of the trail was a very smooth mountain path and other sections were more technical.  (I tend to walk the more difficult sections. – yes, I’m a wimp.  )  We were riding for about 10 minutes and we suddenly found ourselves faced with needing a plan “B”  While going over a large group of rocks my husband’s derailleur completely snapped in half and the bike could no longer be ridden.

 

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The derailleur is the piece that shifts the chain between gears.  (this one is not broken)

 

We then had a decision to make—just walk the bikes back to the cottage or park them by a tree and continue on the path by foot.  We, of course, chose the latter option.  Since we love to hike it was a great alternative.

 

White I was disappointed that our original plans got derailed, (pun intended 🙂 )I realized as I walked that I was able to see things from a totally different perspective on foot than on the bike.  On the bike most of my concentration goes to avoiding obstacles – trees, rocks, roots…..  Much of the surrounding beauty is overlooked due to the necessity of needing to watch the trail directly in front of you.

 

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Ready to enjoy Plan “B”

 

I began to take pictures of things I would have missed if I was still on my bike.  The first was a moss-covered rock.  The bright green just jumped out at me.  With spring just now beginning here in South-Central PA nature is just now starting to sprout green around us.

 

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Gorgeous shad of green

 

At one point I stopped and looked up at the sky.  It was so beautiful to see the sky surrounded by various tree tops.  This was something I definitely couldn’t have done on a bike.  (Try looking up at the sky while riding a bike – not a good idea)

 

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Beautiful spring sky as seen through tree tops

 

We hiked to the end of the trail and began the trek back to pick up our bikes and head to the cottage.  I had passed by this tree going the first direction, but it was an entirely different view from this side.

 

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One funky tree 

 

We eventually reached the spot where our bikes were leaning against a tree and began the process of walking them back.  While it was definitely not fun walking a heavy mountain bike over all of the obstacles on the trail I wouldn’t have given up the chance to simply be out in nature.  All in all it was a wonderful day.

 

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Bikes are a lot more fun to ride than to walk. 😦 

 

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Quite often in life, I get so focused on where I’m going that I forget to enjoy the beauty along the way.  I become so absorbed with finishing everything on my to-do list that I miss the special moments that occur along the way.

 

Earlier this week I had to make a trip to our cottage for a small task that needed to be done.  I awoke thinking of all the things I needed do as I’m preparing for my Holiday Home Show and had a ton of tasks on my to-do list.  I wasn’t looking forward to taking 1 1/2 hours out of my already busy day to drive the whole way there and back for an errand that would take only 5 minutes to accomplish.

 

That morning as I took my dog out for his morning ‘constitutional’ I was greeted with the sight of a gorgeous morning sky. As I stood looking at it I was reminded that even when life is harried that there are gifts of beauty along the way that are easily overlooked.

 

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As I  drove up the mountain to the cottage I began to notice just how beautiful the scenery was along way.  It’s late-Autumn here in central PA and the leaves are turning amazing colors.  Both sides of the road are lined with trees and it seemed as though each time I drove around a curve in the road the colors were more amazing than the the last.

 

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One section is lined by pine trees.  Even though the bright colors of the deciduous trees are extremely beautiful, the line of green pines has it’s own charm.

 

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As I turned onto a gravel road the scenery changed, but still had a special kind of beauty.

 

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Entering the driveway I felt a sense of peace (as I often do).  This time of year when it’s completely covered by pine needles and leaves even the car was quiet.

 

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Even though the cottage is nothing fancy, to me it’s a beautiful sight.  It’s my ‘piece of heaven on earth’ – a place I can relax and experience a sense of peace that I don’t always feel at our home.  On this day, as I got out of the car and headed to the door, this is what I saw:

 

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My Happy Place 🙂 

 

I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined the sound effect you hear in movies when something has a bright light shining on it – like an angelic chorus. (Click here to hear the sound I heard in my head)  I know that may sound a bit dramatic and a little silly, but in a real way, this little place has been a heavenly gift to me.  It’s where I can slow down enough to focus on the truly important things in life and be able to appreciate all of the beauty that is around me.  On this day, even though I wasn’t able to spend much time there, I did take time to notice the beauty on drive.  I wish I could always have the mind-set to be more aware of special moments along this journey called ‘life’.  I hate to think that I am missing any heavenly gifts along the way.

 

I can’t remember if I finished everything on my list that day, but I do remember feeling grateful for all the beauty around me.

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Lately I’ve been learning how to enjoy things in nature that I have taken for granted most of my life. Believe it or not, I’m now a bird-watcher.  The one I enjoy the most flies through the air at incredibly fast speeds and only weighs as much as a dime.  They are a gorgeous shade of green with a brilliant red neck.  Yep, I’ve learned to enjoy watching hummingbirds, specifically Ruby Throated  Hummingbirds.

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts that we’ve recently purchased a cottage in the woods and there is a wide variety of wildlife to enjoy and the hummingbird is one of the smallest, yet one of the most fascinating.  When we first began to spend time up here we saw a few hummingbirds darting around and decided to put up some feeders.  What started with 1 feeder has now turned into 8 and I’ve also planted many various flowers that attract Hummingbirds.  When I get in to something I REALLY get in to it. 🙂

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It’s so exciting to be sitting quietly on the porch and suddenly hear that familiar hum.  A hummingbird seems to appear out of nowhere and is sipping nectar from one of the feeders.  It is fascinating to watch them continually dip their slender beak into the feeder and then quickly dart to another feeder.  At times it can be like watching an action-packed movie.  Hummingbirds can be quite territorial about their feeders and they often turn into miniature fighter jets as they dive-bomb each other and chase each other through the trees.

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The colors on the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird are truly breath-taking.  The back of the male is a bright, iridescent green and when he turns his head certain ways his neck almost lights up with the brightest red you can imagine.  The females are also a pretty green, but  as with most other birds, the male steals the show as far as looks.

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We recently put 2 feeders up right on the porch railing so roughly 3-4 feet in front of us.  I LOVE when they come and feed right in front of me.  To watch their little wings beating and see them dipping into the flowers at such close range is a thrill.  I’m hoping to work up to the point where they eat out of a feeder in my hand.

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I know I sound like an old lady, but trust me, you should take time to appreciate the beauty of this tiny bird.  There is so much joy and beauty in the world that you can enjoy if you just take the time to notice it.  I’m totally content with the status of ‘old-lady’ if it means I can appreciate more and more things in my life no matter how small.

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Never Say “Never”

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I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve said I would NEVER do something only to wind up doing exactly what I said I’d “never” do.  

  • I said I’d never live in a white house–I now live in a house with white siding.  
  • I said I’d never ride a bike–I now LOVE riding bicycle.  
  • I said I’d never like eating wings because it was ‘barbaric’.  Well, I now thoroughly enjoy sitting down to a heaping plateful of messy wings and tearing into them like a ravenous dog.
  • plus MANY more……..

 

One thing I said I’d never do was to have any kind of vacation place.  My husband had been talking about it for years and I’ve always said that was something I’d never do.  Well………yep, you guessed it, we now own a cottage in a nearby state forest.  As my husband kept showing me picture after picture of cabins, cottages and homes in the woods I continued to adamantly tell him that it wasn’t something I wanted.  Then, one evening he showed me a picture of a cottage that had recently been listed.  To call it ‘love at first sight’ might be an overstatement, but for some reason my attitude changed and I could immediately see our family spending time at this little cottage in the woods.  Knowing how much our kids loved camping in this area when they were young, I knew they would want to spend time at this little place.  We went to see it with family members and it was unanimous—everyone loved it.  We became happy owners of a little cottage in the woods.

 

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“Fern Gully” (aka Adelaide)

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Even though I loved the place and expected to enjoy it, I had no idea how much I was going to NEED it.  Just the time we began to spend time there things began to happen within our family.  

  • My daughter delivered our granddaughter 4 weeks early after an extremely difficult pregnancy.
  • My father, who had been ill, passed away suddenly.
  • Other things happened within the family that brought sorrow.

 

As all of this was happening, I found that spending time at our peaceful, little cottage enabled me to process some of my emotions.  Many nights were spent sitting on the porch praying and crying while coming to terms with some of the grief and fear.  Sitting on that little porch in the woods, listening to the sounds of the forest as nightfall came filled me with a sense of calm.  My soul began to heal as I rocked, cried, prayed and yes, sipped wine

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The “Special” Porch

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This cottage has been something our entire family needed.  We have had several wonderful weekends at the cottage with the kids/grandkids enjoying many things as a family.  

  • sitting around the fire
  • enjoying dinner together
  • falling asleep under the same roof and then waking up together
  • seeing our first bear
  • working on projects together
  • hiking
  • canoeing
  • etc……

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Nothing beats sitting around a campfire.

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One of our hikes

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When I first looked at the pictures of the cottage, I knew it would be a fun place for our family, but I had no idea how healing it would be.  Even though I didn’t know all those things were about to happen-God did.  He gave me something I needed before the need was even there.   I can’t help but wonder how often God does this and we don’t even realize it.  I hope I can become more and more aware of all the ways I’m cared for by my loving God.  

 

I encourage you to never say ‘never’.  You might be saying no to a special gift that God wants to give to you.  It might be something you never wanted, but turn out being exactly what you need.

 

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A Gift from Above

 

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Forest

The Beauty of the Forest

Being in the woods is something I’ve always loved. I’ve done a good bit of hiking, backpacking and simply enjoying time in nature. Tonight I’m enjoying time in the forest from the comfort of a porch.

I sit on a covered porch surrounded by a white railing with glowing candles along the top. The sun is setting and the night sounds are beginning. It’s light enough that there are still birds chirping even as the night insects begin their chorus. The various insect sounds are particularly clear because there is no wind rustling the trees—it’s completely still. Hummingbirds are still coming to grab an evening snack from the feeders. There are many sounds, yet it is peaceful here.

I see various types of pine trees, a few deciduous trees, ferns and other plants that grow among the trees. The only colors backlit by the darkening sky are green and brown, yet is a beautiful sight. The trees are tall and graceful.

It’s a very simple setting, yet one that nourishes my soul. This is a place that I feel at peace and can allow healing to take place in my heart. There have been many worries and sorrows in my life lately, but time on this porch is one thing that touches my heart.

I’m feeling very thankful for the beautiful creation that God has given to me.

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Honeysuckle High

 

OK, I confess—- I got high today, but not the way you think.  I didn’t partake of marijuana, cocaine or any other illicit drug, but I was definitely feeling that kind of euphoria earlier today.  (at least what I’m TOLD it feels like–wink, wink)  Curious?  –  I guess I should explain.

 

I enjoy riding a bicycle and today was a perfect day for a cycling…temperature in the 80’s, very low wind and mostly sunny.   This particular ride was like many others except that it had a specific purpose.  Here in South Central Pennsylvania the honeysuckle is in full bloom and it smells AMAZING, so today’s ride was a ‘honeysuckle ride’.  I chose a 25 mile route along  back country roads that I knew had the largest sections of honeysuckle.  I rode by patch after patch of fully-blooming honeysuckle and as I passed each one I took a slow deep breath through my nose in order to inhale as much of that alluring scent as possible (taking care not to hyperventilate.)  I enjoyed each and every wave of the heavenly scent and even found myself moaning a few times–luckily nobody was around.

 

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As with any ride I enjoyed many aspects such as the breeze on my face, getting wonderful exercise, seeing many beautiful sights along the way, but the biggest pleasure today was being able to continually savor that sweet aroma of honeysuckle.  I may not have used an illegal substance today, but I definitely ‘inhaled’ and got as high as possible from honeysuckle.   Believe it or not the song “Rocky Mountain High” kept going through my mind, except I was singing it as “Honeysuckle High”.  I was enjoying myself so much that if my legs hadn’t gotten tired I might still be riding.

 

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If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you give it a shot.  I must warn you that it IS addictive.   😉

 

 

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