Good Morning!!!

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good morning

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Ok, I know that it is not morning right now, but today I was inspired by the morning.  I will tell you right now, I do not like early mornings.  I am a night owl…going to sleep at midnight is pretty much normal.  Part of this is because my brain functions better at night, so I do all of my studying then.  What is the point?

This morning my alarm sounded at 6:30am and boom my day started.  While this is not something I want to do on a regular basis, it was a good morning for me.  Early mornings are so different.  The birds are waking up, people are just leaving for work, the world starts to stir.   The look, sound and feel of mornings are different than other parts of the day.

By doing something different, I was able to see the world in a new perspective. It makes me think… the people who do this every morning, do they appreciate this beauty?  By changing our actions, our habits, we take a fresh view of the world.  The routines that we have make life mundane.

Challenge: At least once a month, change your routine… get up early, stay up late, eat something different… whatever it is for you, change.  Different is not bad, it is just unusual, but there is good, even good mornings.

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Think Before Speaking

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Challenging thought for the day. It makes me realize how many things I say without thinking. Speaking

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Days End

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I was walking home today and the sun was just setting. The beauty was stunning and was not done justice by the picture I snapped. Sometime the ending of things is seen as sad or unwelcome, but God in His greatness gave us something amazing at each days end. Beautiful and inspiring is the close of day and is a moment that will never be recreated.

Gift #9. Sunsets

Sunset

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Far and Away

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Durham CathedralFor a few weeks this summer, I have been traveling in the United Kingdom.  While doing some touristy things, I am also trying to observe and learn from the experience too.

Purple Tree    Durham and Durham Cathedral were some of the places that we visited.  One of the things that struck me, even during my first few days here, is the colors.  Even as we were leaving the hotel I saw this amazing tree.  This picture does not do it justice, it is a massive deep purple tree and it stands out, even from a good distance.

 

Durham StreetsThe city of Durham is not large, but the streets are alive with people.  Exploring these streets, we found everything from little cafes, to supermarkets, to souvenir stores, to charity shops (a version of a thrift store).  There were gray sky’s most of the day, but this did not stop people from getting outside.  The Market Square is the center of town and where there is always something happening.

The former Bishop's Palace.  Now part of Durham University.

The former Bishop’s Palace. Now part of Durham University.

Traditions and heritage are themes which seem to permeate the area. While there are modern buildings or modern store fronts, the primary structures are built to mimic the old buildings, to keep a similarity between everything.  We were told on a tour, “100 years is to us like 100 miles is to American’s”. To them traditions and heritage go back centuries and the way they live shows the love they have for their country.

City Market

City Market

This unity is also spread through to the culture. In America, we are very independent, everyone who can owns a car and a cell phone, our grocery stores are made so that we Phone Boxencounter as few people as possible.  We eat as fast as we can and our tables at restaurants and placed so as to still give some privacy.  Over here, there is a sense of community between everyone. From the wide use of public transportation or at least the fact that there are hardly any cars around, the public telephones and the use of market places promotes joining together.  They understand that each person is dependent on many others for the food they buy and the way they live their life.

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

We also hiked along Hadrian’s Wall, or what is called the “northern end of civilization”. The variety of greens in the grass, the deep blue of the sky, and the animals which dot many of the fields bring tranquility.  We had a beautiful day, but even when the sky is gray and threatening, I never feel the uneasiness of a storm.  You prepare for a storm and enjoy it when it comes, if it is sunny you eat lunch out on the grass, we have done this multiple times.

The feeling I get over here is that humans or modern times are intruding into life and that this effect should be kept as limited as possible. Open countryside had been the primary vista, so far during our trip. The houses are small and the few cars even smaller. The building materials are usually stone or brick, or are made to look like such. There is ivy growing over many walls and gardens at most homes. Nature is given the priority in this areas. The sound of sheep, the wind and running water are commonly heard sounds.

Farm House  I think that the culture of the people and their enjoy life attitude is displayed in the way they build their homes and cities. And in turn, this heritage is passed on to others. The sweeping vistas and the clean fresh air that is present even in cities are characteristics which make this country special…  These are a  stark difference from the smog and chemical smells of many areas of America.  The United States would do well to consider adopting some of these characteristics into our society.

England Landscape

 

 

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Rain

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Mountains During a Storm

Mountains During a Storm

Growing up, I lived in a hardwood rainforest. No kidding, you can check it out here. Freshman year of college, it rained so much that I wore out my brand new rain boots. So, I’ve seen a lot of rain. Why do I mention this? Well, to many people rain is just an annoyance, but there is beauty in the rain too.

Rain Brings Life

With each storm that comes through, the earth is given life. The plants are nourished and this starts the food chain. Recently when I was in Florida, I saw the beauty of Rain Lilies. These Lilies only come after deep hard rains. April showers do indeed bring May flowers.

Rain Brings Change

            Rain also signifies a change. A changes of season: the ending of winter, the beginning of summer. The rain changes the world… watch a storm, the rain makes visible things, before unseen… the wind, distance between spaces, specific light beams.

Storms are unique, the smell of rain, the fog or lighting that come too, or the slow drizzle that begs you to sit by the fire with a book. Storms change in an instant, I experienced this just yesterday. I had to run from a building to my car and in the process became completely soaked. Two minutes down the road, it was like someone flipped a switch… the rain stopped. It was truly amazing.

Rain Cleanses

As the drops fall from the sky, the earth is cleansed and the air is purified. The dirt is washed away and the pollen grounded and swept away too. It is often after the rain that allergies start to subside. It is like the earth “takes a shower”.

Hosea 6:3

English Standard Version “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

Christ is like rain… Jesus gave His life and in that process, we were cleansed, changed and given new life. Some people go around life thinking that Christ and Christianity are just a nuisance, rules to follow, condemnation, in general, unpleasant. But the gift he gave saved the world although many overlook it. Just like the rain, the beauty is present to those who look. Cleansed of sin, changed into His heirs, given eternal life with Him.

 

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Child Joy

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Ruby with Flower

Child Joy

At times it seems this world has become almost jaded and dark, the technology that has made “anything possible” has also blinded us.  We hustle and bustle around, we are constantly surrounded by noise and commotion.  We forget the simple beauties: flowers, rainbows, the night’s stars…

Here is a picture of pure joy: child joy.   This little girl does not have the same problems we do, she is completely happy at the sight of that flower.  Her joy does not stop there, but it spreads to her mother, to me, and to you.  She is looking at what is around her, she notices little things and this brings her joy.

I hope that we can take the time to enjoy what is around us: a well-built building, a piece of art, the sound of a rushing river, or even the silence.  In the bustling city or in the far out countryside, there is beauty and in the beauty, we can find joy.  I share these because, as I notice the little things, my joy becomes greater.  I saw this Cardinal sitting in a brush pile and thankfully was able to snap a picture, this spot of Red against the grey backdrop brightened my whole day.

Cardinal  I feel that this idea goes even further than a joyful moment at the sight of something pretty.  Corrie ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” We can never get somewhere that God does not care for us, this is the wellspring of joy.  His love is so beautiful and the fact that He gives it to us, can bring joy to any situation.  This is made even more impactful by the story of Corrie ten Boom’s life.  She found joy in a place that almost everyone saw as hopeless, the love of Christ was her Hiding Place.

We have many things that are beautiful surrounding us on a daily basis. We can have the joy of a child at the simple pleasures of life.  However, there is a greater joy than the temporary pleasures of this world – the eternal love of our Father God. No matter what trials we are facing, He is beauty in a dark world, He is joy, hope and life.

 

 

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