Monday, November 26, 2007

And So It Begins~~

Welcome to my New Readers!

My little photo blog started out to be open to family & close friends only while I was trying it out. I was concerned people who only knew me as "Al's Wife" would think I'm a little wacky. But now that he's let the cat out of the bag, let me welcome you to a little corner of my world. One thing you might be wondering about is, who is this "Joe" I sometimes refer to???? That would be Albert J. His middle name is Joseph and the family has always called him Joe. (Now, don't you start calling him Joe...he probably won't answer. Besides, that's my special privilege:) After we married & moved to Illinois, his new boss called him 'Al' and it just stuck.

And so it begins.....the Christmas season, that is. Are you ready? Christmas is something like my semi-annual gym pilgrimage (see October entry "Hope Springs Eternal"). I have marvelous intentions. Big plans! All decorating done the weekend after Thanksgiving. (btw: I did get 2 trees up this weekend - score!!) Cards in the mail, handmade of course, by December 1. Shopping done by the 15th. Special hand crafted gifts, naturally. Baking, baking, baking! Afternoon teas with my special holiday tea sets. Entertaining every weekend.

Such an ambitious list. Guess what actually gets done? Right! Very little of it!!!! But here's the beauty~~are you ready to know the secret?

It's the Season of Hope. It's fun to dream and plan, but if you can't do it all (and you can't) it's OK. Your worth is not determined by this one month of the year. There is no grade, not even a pass/fail. No one is keeping score, so don't you dare put that on yourself. If you do, you'll miss the whole point of this beautiful time.

Do you see that tiny red berry in the picture above? Faith smaller than that, in the precious blood of Jesus, makes you white as snow in God's eyes and you immediately begin your eternal life. That's what it's all about. No baking required.

Friday, November 23, 2007

New Discoveries

(A friend told me about a park near here, with a lake. I've lived here 25 years and never heard of it! Monday, we took a ride and enjoyed a warm, sunny day walking along the lake, taking pictures, feeling the kind of peace these special times bring. Pix below!)

It's the day after T-day. Time for a list - something traditional! Let's do the question discussed by thousands of families yesterday.....What are you thankful for?

My little family. We're all here in town now. Everyone is healthy, working, full of vision for the future and a sense of excitement for the days ahead.

My family out of state. Even though they're 900 miles east of here and 1200 miles northwest, I hold them all close in my heart. I have wonderful parents, and the best brothers & sister anyone could ask for. Their spouses and children are a blessed addition to the fam.

My church family. We've been together for over 20 years. Even when they move away or change churches they always have a place in our hearts, a portrait in our memory gallery. New ones are added to the family all the time, weaving their own unique thread in the tapestry.

Beauty in creation and the opportunity to be creative with it.

The simple things in life... serendipitous moments, surprising discoveries.

Our Lord Jesus...who directs our steps and lights our path.

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. ~ Margaret Cousins

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Adventures in Arkansas

Two weeks off - yahoo! The first week is quickly past, but it was very productive. A pleasing mixture of creativity, catching up on housework, movies, rest, fun, and a even a day-trip. Thursday was autumny-warm & glowingly beautiful. We drove to Arkansas on scenic 412, had lunch, did some shopping, snapped a few pictures, and came home. It was good to get out of town even for just a few hours. 

This week will be spent much the same way, including celebrating Thanksgiving, then starting the Christmas decorating. But first a story from our Arkansas adventure...
We love road trips. We talk, talk, talk; look at the scenery, stop for coffee, talk some more, stop at places that look intriguing, sometimes do a little shopping. We were cruising along 412, enjoying our little day-trip, and came upon a very disturbing sight. If you are the slightest bit squeamish, you may want to skip the blog today. You've been duly warned:
Apparently in Arkansas, Upright Vacuums are not welcome. Trespassing vacuums are killed and their dead bodies impaled as a warning to others. I am not making this up. This photojournalist risked getting hit by (apparently unfazed) passing motorists and the very real threat of chiggers to bring you these pictures as evidence.

It was a tragic sight, one I shall never forget. I came home & hugged my little Dirt Devil.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Sky Painter

We went on a hayride with our Sunday School class this weekend. It was a beautiful evening, almost balmy. Of course I had to take the camera. I'm still figuring out this new one & *sniff* I'm not very good with it yet. Ah, the sweetness of digital technology and photoshop. Snap a bazillion pictures, delete the completely unusable ones, & jazz up the rest. However, I'm pleased to say these 2 shots are nature au natural. Joe took the second one - same sky, different camera setting. I'm not even sure what he did but the effect is rich.
When I saw these, I was immediately reminded of a song called "Maker of the Heavens" by Jennifer Randolph:

Maker of the heavens
Painter of the sky
Your greatest works reserved for such as I
The angels long to sing
About the gift you gave to me
The love of God so unrestrained and free
You, oh Lord, are the fragrance of my praise
The finest words could never bear my heart
You, oh Lord, are the essence of my praise
I treasure you for who you are

I could end my blog right there; praise in words and pictures. But I have a thought...
I'm reading a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven. The author describes dying in a car wreck, going to heaven, & returning to earth after being officially declared dead for 90 minutes. I don't usually read these 'vision of heaven' books. There's one especially, by a very popular evangelist, that I scanned thru & thought "bad burrito alert!!" This one is different, believable. He said several things that made me think & I want to touch on those in the next few days. But here's my Gypsy Musing for today:

The thing he remembers most, almost 10 years later, are the sounds in heaven. The author describes the constant swishing sound of angel wings as "a holy melody with a cadence that seemed never to stop...a form of never-ending praise." He said praise was everywhere, all of it musical, hundreds of different songs being sung at the same time, yet the melodies and tones blended perfectly. He didn't just hear the music - it played in and through his body.

We're told that we'll be praising God for eternity, which causes many people to think (1) that's gonna get boring (2) is God some kind of Divine Egomaniac? But stay with me here...
God is love. His love is "unrestrained and free", not a seperate attribute, not an emotion. It's who & what He is. God/Love. Love/God. One and the same. To be in the presence of pure Love, where it not only surrounds you, but saturates your very being...what would your response be? LOVE. I think the sounds, music, and praises of heaven are the sounds of this flow of spiritual love energy between God, His children, angelic beings, and all of the heavenly realm! I don't think it's just everyone singing & chanting Holy Holy Holy, although there probably is some of that. I think what is called the sound of praise in heaven is really...the Sound of Love.


Monday, November 5, 2007


Welllll...I haven't had anything on my heart to talk about lately. Joe, on the other hand, is just blogging away. Very good stuff, too. He always amazes me. Check it out at (High D is a play off high definition. Joe believes in living life in high def)

Since there are no musings from the MysticalGypsy tonight, I'm just going to put up a collection of themed pictures. When you scroll down, you'll see why this post is titled "ShadowPlay".

This is the wrap-around porch of the cabin we stayed in last fall in Tennessee. I thought the rail made an interesting shadow composition.

Best friends reflected in the river that runs along Branson Landing in Branson, MO

The next 3 were taken in a gorgeous hiking area in the Smoky Mts. last October. It was a photographer's buffet of photo ops!! We came upon a beautiful mountain stream and to give credit where credit is due: Joe had the idea for these pix & he snapped them.

God said it's not good for man to be alone....

So he brought him a help-mate; a Best Friend for Life.

And they are living happily ever after.

We believe our mansions in heaven will be next door to each other. Why not?