Gift #693: Halloween Art

Over the weekend I roamed about some stores looking for Halloween decorations.   I can’t wait for pumpkins and fall leaves to make their appearance!  (Actually in some stores they made their appearance in July but it seemed indecent to blog about it then).  I found these two canvases at one of the stores I visited.  They actually have little twinkle lights behind the canvas to give the lighting a realistic look.  I hadn’t seen that before and thought that was very clever.

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The two pictures portray everything I love about the season – old houses, large trees with creepy branches, jack-o-lanterns, and of course… a full moon.  Well, they don’t have bats and I love bats, but overlooking that, it’s a nice conglomerate of Halloween goodness.  This one is my favorite.

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Can’t you just picture yourself in the scene?  The wind blowing wildly, a howl in the distance, clouds blowing over the moon, and the watery moonlight illuminates a large manor house at the end of the road.  Dare you approach??  Will you meet friend or foe?  Your feet crunch over dead withered leaves, and your heart pounds wildly as you cross to the font porch and raise your hand to the ominous knocker.  A moment of dreadful silence and suspense… and then the door opens and you breathe a sigh of relief… it’s the right address after all.  The hostess offers you a glass of apple cider and pulls you inside.  “The party has already started” she says.  “What took you so long?”   “It’s a long story… see my car broke down on the side of road while it was raining…..”

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #692: Summer berries

I snapped these pictures during a recent neighborhood stroll.  Berries are such a cheery way to transition between the seasons.  I love how some berries stand in stark contrast to the glossy green leaves of the trees.

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Others can’t decide whether they’d rather be a leaf or a berry – so they opt for a little of each.

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We’ve been enjoying very good edible berries too – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries… they seem so sweet this time of year, as if all the pleasantness of summer is concentrated in them.  Perhaps it’s because summer days are fleeting and soon autumn’s chill will replace warm sunny days and we long to capture the last essence of bountiful summer fruit.  My favorite way of eating berries is in a salad with other fruits, topped with homemade granola and lemon Stilton cheese!

image And so as the seasons transition, we savor what is left of summer’s joys and look forward in anticipation to the gifts of autumn.

Blessings to you,
Sarah

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Gift #691: The other side

I’ve been pondering on the subject of this blog all week and I finally decided it was time to write it out.  Last Sunday in our sermon at church we covered Jesus and His disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee, calming a storm, and working miracles among a community (Mark 4). This adventure is prefaced by Jesus saying “Let us go over to the other side.”  I thought about that phrase all week.  I understand that the immediate context is Jesus desiring to cross the Sea of Galilee to reach the opposite side, but I think the directive can be taken in a deeper way as well.  The town to which Jesus and His disciples traveled to was Gentile.  The Jews did not associate with Gentiles at all – they were “others” and not part of a Jewish person’s community or concern.

Human nature hasn’t changed at all since then.  If there’s anything we do well, it’s separating into “us” and “them”.  A brief look through the news will make one wonder if humanity can do anything else.  Any possible difference between people becomes a source of conflict.  Religion, political party, economic class, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, race – all the ways that describe us end up dividing “us” from “them”.  When Jesus walked this earth, the society in which He moved operated just the same way.  And He had none of it.  Jesus’ ministry was marked by His “going to the other side.”  He was oblivious to the barriers He continually broke through and this angered those who had meticulously labored to erect them.  A lot has been made of Jesus’ ministry to the marginalized of society – in fact, I’ve heard some claim that Jesus came to minister exclusively to the outcasts and bring the Kingdom of God to them.  But Jesus was about more than finding a place for the neglected.  It’s true that He ate with “sinners”, but He also ate with the religious elite.  He spent a lot of time with the poor, but many of His friends were counted among the wealthy.  He surrounded Himself with men and women.  Jesus didn’t come for a particular subset of society – He came for everyone and to remove all barriers between us.  One could argue that in setting foot on the earth, the Son of God was “coming to the other side” so that there would not separation between God and man again.

I thought about Jesus’ words again: “Let us go to the other side.”  What would it look like for me to go to the other side?  Who do I see as “other”?  Who do you see?  I begin to wonder if this was the directive that fueled the Kingdom of God.  This was the lesson Jesus instilled in His disciples during the years He spent with them – He was sending them out, preparing them to see the “others” and to heal and preach good news to them.  We hear a lot about “standing our ground”, “drawing a line”, “entrenching in”…. I wonder how our world would change if instead of standing our ground, we “went over to the other side” to serve with love and show grace.  I wonder how my world would change if instead of seeing “them”,  I saw the image of God in their eyes.  Am I brave enough to follow Jesus to the other side?  The thought frightens me.  I bet the disciples were uncomfortable with the notion too, but they obeyed, and they got a front row seat to seeing the Kingdom of heaven come to the hearts of men.  And not one of them ever regretted that choice to follow over to the other side.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

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Gift #690: Snail mail

I thought today I’d share some cards I made recently.  These are winging their way to Ohio for Operation Write Home.  They collect handmade cards to send overseas to those serving in our military so that they have a supply of cards to send to loved ones.  They had specifically requested “love” and “miss you” themes.

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I used some of the new stamps and dies that I purchased at the Stamp Convention in Cinci last month and made these quickie cards.  I really like the layout –  it’s versatile and can be used for many occasions.  The flower die is from Taylored Impressions.  I bought a few flowers at the show and have already gotten a lot of use from them.  I used some dies I already had on hand to make the frames from patterned papers and then layered everything together.  The sentiments and banners came from Impression Obsession.  There are about 25 sentiments in the set I bought that all fit on a set of 4 banner dies and all the sentiments are great!   I love using banners on my card, so this was a quick sell.  The cards were topped off with a little punched heart!

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I hope they bring a little bit of happy to their recipients.  And I hope you enjoyed happiness today as well.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #689: Feathers of love

I believe I know God’s love language to me…. feathers!

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On several occasions when I have been in need of special encouragement, He has provided feathers for me.  This may sound a little weird, but He knows how much I love and treasure them.  I’ve blogged before about a special instance where feathers fell out of nowhere practically into my hand and in other times since then I’ve felt like they’ve been special gifts.  It feels like the kind of thing where you would leave a present for a loved one under a pillow or in a closet just for them to find when least expected.  I had been struggling and was much in need of a reminder of God’s love and care for me personally.  Well, today work was very busy and I had to eat a late lunch and then go straight to an appointment.  I ate outside, as I usually do, and then had planned to walk through the courtyard to the building where my appointment would be.  I was on “auto-pilot” and not paying much attention to where I was going and ended up in front of a door I usually don’t use.  But as I reached the door I looked down and that’s where I found it … a beautiful miracle.  Right at my feet there was this lovely feather.  It’s rather large and I think it might be from the pair of nesting hawks that live on our grounds.

Over the past few days I had come across some verses from Scripture that related to feathers.

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.”        Psalm 91:4

“May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge”   Ruth 2:12

 I had relished these verses of how God describes Himself in terms of a bird caring for us under His wings.  As I picked up the feather He provided for me today, the verses came back to mind and I marveled at how personal God’s gifts of love can be.  What a lovely tangible reminder of God’s care and provision it is!

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Blessings to you,
Sarah

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Gift #688: Garden visitor

Last week when I was uncovering the outside table for some dinner alfresco, I found this tiny visitor!

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He was just about 1/2″ long and as cute as can be.  And he kept me company during dinner, which is more than I can say about the frogs inhabiting the backyard pond.  They still give an “eep!” and jump into the water whenever I try to visit with them.  So I have to observe them from the window.  I had wanted to share a poem about frogs or a cute frog quote, but I haven’t found much beyond vague references to connections with rainbows and kissing frogs in hopes of becoming a princess.  Although it’s nice to mark how frogs have played a role in popular culture, I was hoping for something that would praise frogs just for being frogs.  They have certainly brought much joy to my life this summer.  I’ve watched little tadpoles grow into large tadpoles, I finally saw some with tail and legs, and have witnessed the subsequent increase in adult frogs.  (I’ve seen up to 8 at one time out on the lily pads just enjoying the sun and flies).  This little one was a pleasant surprise.

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At this point, I will just take a minute to remind everyone that amphibian populations all across the country are stressed and their numbers continue to decline due to polluted waters, temperature changes, and increased diseases.  Habitat fragmentation doesn’t help either.  They are important little creatures in our ecosystems and the world would be very empty indeed if we did not hear a pleasant serenade from our frogs each summer.  So it is important to do what we can to give our resident amphibians a safe, welcoming environment because it’s not easy being green.  It can be as simple as providing an overturned pot in your garden for shelter or keeping your pond chemical free.  Future generations will thank us for the efforts we make to preserve the miracles of life we have been blessed with.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #687: First glimpse of autumn

Look what I saw today!!  The first signs of autumn are starting to reveal themselves in occasional patches of foliage.

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With scarlet wings and ochre blossoms, the colors of autumn are seeping into the landscape.  Although it’s just a whisper, a subtle blush on the occasional leaf, it won’t be long until it’s a riotous carnival of color.  Oh happy thought!  I can’t wait!!

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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