Observing Lent & Life Lessons

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Lent’s Message of Hope Lisa A. Wisniewski

The season of Lent has finally arrived, which means spring can’t be far behind.  Though the past week’s weather has been a mix of winter’s finest elements, hints of spring in the warmer air and brighter days are emerging.  Sunrise has inched to 7:15 AM and sunset is at 5:56 PM.  The past two day’s high temperatures were above 40°F, allowing snow and ice to melt and form little ponds of water in lower lying areas.

This past week has been the first week in some time that I have had enough daylight and cooperating temperatures to complete my normal routine of runs and bike rides.  Talk about a shot of adrenaline after weeks of having to stop short due to conditions!  There is nothing like returning to “normal” after a bit of chaos in one’s life.

Defining Moments

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Changing Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

However, sometimes we need to make changes or adjustments in order to maintain our sense of normal.  One of the reasons I have always liked the Lenten season is its ability to make oneself consider priorities, expectations, goals, achievements, and direction in life.  While asking these questions can be difficult, and trying to answer them can be more than a challenge, the experience of the journey can be quite moving and invigorating.

Like many parishes in my community, the church I attend has a number of Lenten activities and opportunities to volunteer during the season.  This year, things are a little uncertain because our priest fell and is recovering from injuries, which means we have had some visiting priests to help with masses and volunteers to help with normal church operations.

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Blessed Are We Lisa A. Wisniewski

This past Sunday, the visiting priest had a different approach to mass and offered a funny and insightful homily on the readings.  His message was that we are all children of God.  As such, we are blessed, favored, and have nothing to fear.  He reminded the congregation that Lent is a season to focus on being children of God.  I had never heard this aspect of Lent before, so I was quite intrigued with the priest’s comments and insights.

At one point, he asked us to remember these words: “Blessed am I.  Favored am I.  I have nothing to fear.” He even started to sing it like a song and dance around, which made the congregation erupt in laughter.  Clearly, he wanted to offer the congregation insight into the season and the readings, as well as life.

Opportunities Abound

Driving home that day, I thought about how we have so many opportunities to learn and grow in life.  Whether it is during Lent or some other season, many organizations offer conferences and presentations to give us help with everything from health to finances, faith to home improvement, and hobbies to employment.

We also have books and other forms of literature, television, the Internet, and people in our community as resources.  Above all, we have nature, the ever-present teacher with boundless lessons to share and great patience with our learning ability.

Patience and Perseverance

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Making a Difference Lisa A. Wisniewski

One of the keys to both teaching and learning is patience.  Patience with ourselves and others as we journey together through the lessons of life.  Recently, I read a book called Make Your Bed by retired U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven.  The book is an extension of a commencement speech McRaven offered at the University of Texas in 2014.  In it, he shares life lessons learned in his training and career as a Navy SEAL.

While McRaven acknowledges that both his patience and that of his commanding officers was tested upon the journey and some of the techniques used were less than compassionate, the end goal was to make a difference.  This difference was not only in the SEALS in training, but also in the world.  McRaven emphasizes the little things we can do that over time and with patience, make a difference, both in us and in our surroundings.

Little Things

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Little Crescent Moon in the Morning Sky Lisa A. Wisniewski

The first little bit of knowledge McRaven shares is to make your bed.  Doing so allows you to accomplish the first task of the day, which provides a psychological boost. He explains one task accomplished leads to another like a domino effect.  By the end of the day, you have accomplished much.  He stresses that if you do the little things in life correctly, you will also do the larger things in life correctly.

His second piece of wisdom is to find someone to help you.  Teamwork is essential to surviving life’s difficulties and reaching our destiny.  As we go through the process of finding others to help, we must remember to measure people by the size of their hearts and not their outward appearance.  McRaven uses his personal experience to explain how the smallest in stature, frailest in appearance, and least likely candidates to assist ended up being his greatest helpers and sources of inspiration upon his journey.

Cookies and Circuses of Life

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Welcome to the Circus Lisa A. Wisniewski

In our experiences of helping others and finding helpers, we will come across unfair circumstances.  McRaven uses the SEALs ritual of being a “sugar cookie” to illustrate this point.  If at any point during training, it was deemed you had created an “infraction” you had to run into the surf, making your entire body wet, then go roll in the sand on the beach.  You spent the rest of the day wet and covered in sand, which was most uncomfortable, and sometimes you did not even know what “infraction” you had committed to deserve these circumstances.  McRaven suggests we “get over being a sugar cookie and move forward” during life’s unfair times.

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Strength in Numbers Lisa A. Wisniewski

The fifth piece of advice the Admiral shares is failure can make you stronger.  In SEAL training, it is required to swim certain distances in a given time with your swim buddy.  If the time was deemed unacceptable, you and your swim buddy were put on a list called The Circus.  The Circus was two additional hours of calisthenics at the end of the day when you were already tired from normal training.  Typically, once you got on The Circus list, it took some time to get off it because each day was another swim, another evaluation, and another extra two hours of exercises, leading to fatigue.  However, over time, the exercises in The Circus strengthened you and your swim buddy’s bodies, allowing you to improve as a team.

Going through The Circus also allows you to become mentally stronger, which allows you to learn to take risks, or as the Admiral explains, “dare greatly” in order to achieve success.  While there is a time and a place for caution, we also must recognize when we need to stand up to the bullies in life.  Doing so takes courage, which, if we dig deep, we can find within ourselves.

Digging Deep and Singing Along

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Light in the Dark Lisa A. Wisniewski

Along with digging deep, we need to learn how to be at our best during life’s darkest moments.  This is not a quickly learned lesson, but rather takes time to develop.  We all have different ways and perspectives to help us “rise to the occasion” as McRaven explains it.  During these darkest moments, we need to both find and offer hope.  McRaven suggests to “start singing when you are up to your neck in mud” and what better way to find hope than with a song that moves the soul?

Sometimes, we will have to sing more than a few songs, dig deep more times than we think is possible, go through The Circus days on end, be sugar cookies despite our greatest efforts, and look really hard to find measureable hearts to help us.  However, we must never quit, or as the Admiral puts it, “never, ever ring the bell” signaling your submission.

Perseverance and Perspective

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Perspective Lisa A. Wisniewski

I must admit reading McRaven’s book gave me a mental boost in my preparing for Lent and for a few upcoming difficult life circumstances.  Like the priest’s message I spoke of earlier, McRaven reminded me of little things I can do that ultimately make a big difference.  It boils down to perseverance and perspective.  Keep moving, keep trying, keep adjusting, and in time, we will find the right path.  But—and this is a big but– we have to make the decision to try.  No one else can make it for us.

Life is full of opportunities to try, both on our own and with groups of others.  Nature offers us additional insight, if only we take the time to observe and reflect.  In combining known and unknown, we learn to extend ourselves and give others hope.  The mental and physical exercises we go through in life build upon this hope, allowing us to keep moving forward.

May the journey we take in life allow us to do the little things well and ultimately lead to bigger successes.  May our offerings of assistance to others be reciprocated or returned when we find ourselves in need, and may our perseverance lead us to life lessons that sustain our minds, bodies, and souls.

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Intimate Moment Lisa A. Wisniewski

Life Lessons

Life lessons
Intimate moments when
Far and near
Emerge as clear,

Leading us on
Embraced in God’s arms,
Sheltered and protected,
Saved despite our imperfections,
Our souls united as one
Neath the rising and setting sun
So that we can see our destiny.

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Embraced in God’s Arms Lisa A. Wisniewski

Life lessons
In the skies of heaven,
Forest floors and trees,
Earth’s shores and seas,

Lying wide open
Enveloped by time’s extents
Showing and teaching the heart and soul
Slowly growing with meaning to extend its hold
Over and under and beyond
Nature’s rain and thunder, moon, and stars
Spread through our days by God’s grace.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Hope in the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

A Note of Thanks

Thanks to our readers for encouraging us to continue creating insightful posts with relevant messages.  We sincerely appreciate you taking time to read about our adventures through The Circus of life.

-Lisa, Sadie, and Leo

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Sadie and Leo Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Lent – https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/history-of-lent.html

Make Your Bed book – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/make-your-bed-william-mcraven/1124481737#/

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Observing Winter’s Mix and Nature’s Kitchen

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Winter’s Mix Lisa A. Wisniewski

Nature has definitely been creative this past week with weather including sunshine, blue skies, precipitation from rain to ice pellets to snow, low fog, mist, and clouds of all types.  The variety in the landscapes and weather elements has made for some physical, mental, and spiritual challenges, but without this wintry mix, we would not be learning, growing, or really living.

Sunrise Surprise

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Sunrise Surprise Saturday, February 3, 2018 Lisa A. Wisniewski

Saturday’s most beautiful sunrise full of crimson, red, orange, peach, tangerine, cantaloupe, and gold hues made for a spiritual start to the day.  As I ran and biked that morning watching the colors unfold, it was as if nature was making Valentine sugar cookies in the sky and icing them with nature’s sweet hues.  The sight unfolded in slow motion to the rhythm of my breathing, as if the sky and I were one, coming to rise to the challenges of the day.

Recent readings came to mind, especially ones about letting go and acknowledging God’s being in charge despite our best efforts to control life events.  The sight and the stillness also reminded me of an all-time favorite song, Let Your Love Flow, written by Larry E. Williams and sung by the Bellamy Brothers:

Let Your Love Flow

There’s a reason for the sunshine sky
And there’s a reason why I’m feelin’ so high
Must be the season when that love light shines
All around us

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Let Your Love Flow Lisa A. Wisniewski

So let that feelin’ grab you deep inside
And send you reelin’ where your love can’t hide
And then go stealin’ through the moonlit nights
With your lover

Just let your love flow like a mountain stream
And let your love grow with the smallest of dreams
And let your love show and you’ll know what I mean
It’s the season

Let your love fly like a bird on a wing
And let your love bind you to all living things
And let your love shine and you’ll know what I mean
That’s the reason

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Let That Wonder Take You Into Space Lisa A. Wisniewski

There’s a reason for the warm sweet nights
And there’s a reason for the candle lights
Must be the season when those love rites shine
All around us

So let that wonder take you into space
And lay you under its loving embrace
Just feel the thunder as it warms your face
You can’t hold back

Just let your love flow like a mountain stream
And let your love grow with the smallest of dreams
And let your love show and you’ll know what I mean
It’s the season

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Bound to All Living Things Lisa A. Wisniewski

Let your love fly like a bird on a wing
And let your love bind you to all living things
And let your love shine and you’ll know what I mean
That’s the reason…

Though it is sometimes hard to allow our feelings freedom to flow, it is often necessary so that we can move on in and with life.  The message of the morning was most fitting after a rather difficult work week full of personal and professional challenges.

Morning Mist

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Gray All Day Lisa A. Wisniewski

The low-lying mist and fog enveloping Sunday morning was a reminder of the challenges we face during the darker or grayer times in life.  Though the misty fog was quite beautiful in its own right, hanging like a veil below the oatmeal textured clouds, it was also a little depressing.  The ensuing dampness that lingered throughout the day made it a bit uncomfortable for outside work, but true to form, the dogs and I trudged through our to-do lists with enthusiasm and hope that the sun would eventually emerge.

Before sunset, I ran and biked beneath the still-gray skills, lamenting the dreariness.  Looking up, I realized the clouds had an almost painted pattern to them off to the east.  Though not bright in color, something in the wisps whisked across the sky made the atmosphere less dreary and more peaceful.  Though I had been seeking the sun’s light and had not found it, I had managed to get through the day’s events, which reminded me of a great quote:

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” – James A. Michener

Blue Skies and Sunshine Pies

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Shriveled Rhodedendron Lisa A. Wisniewski

Monday’s midday blue skies filled with a mix of sunshine and clouds were a most welcome sight, adding to the variety in February’s wintry weather mix.  While walking the dogs that day, I noticed the rhododendron and mountain laurel leaves had shriveled due to the cold.  The once plump summer and fall leaves of deep green had shrunk into thinner, almost reed-like curled tubes with an olive drab color.  I have seen this before and know the cold temperatures are the root cause of this change.  In warmer temperatures, the water in the leaves expands, creating turgor pressure, resulting in the plump leaf appearance.  As the temperature cools, so do the water molecules in the leaves.  The cooling contracts the water molecules, creating the shrunken appearance.

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Winter Sun Lisa A. Wisniewski

Looking at the leaves, I thought about how winter and colder weather sometimes cause us to contract, forcing us inside, limiting our outside activities, and even causing depression leading to less desire for social interaction.  Like the leaves, we need water to flow within us in order to appear healthy. This water may be of a physical or spiritual nature.  We also need sunlight to steer our minds and light the way along our paths.

The blue skies above reminded me that soon the temperatures will be warmer, sunlight will be more plentiful, and the leaves of the rhododendron and mountain laurel will appear healthier.  The sun radiating in the distance looked like a lemon meringue pie, with a frosty mist covering its inner yellow core. The sight reminded me that life is full of circles with paths to be sliced in different ways.  Some slices are neat and perfect, others a messy blob, yet all provide food for thought and life to nourish us upon the journey.

Winter’s Mix

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Ice-Glazed Pine Lisa A. Wisniewski

Tuesday and Wednesday brought wintry mixes of rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, and ice pellets to the area.  While the many forms of precipitation made for some terrible travel conditions, the resulting glazed landscape with a frosty coating like powdered sugar held a beauty only nature could create.  Shoveling the heavy mix of snow, rain, and ice from the driveway was a great workout Wednesday evening.  Though the clouds covered the skies, the snowy white blanket on the landscape made it appear bright.

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Light After Sunset Lisa A. Wisniewski

Although the official sunset was at 5:47 PM that day, the light lasted until well after 6:00 PM, a sure sign that both Lent and spring are on their way.  Lent begins on February 14th, this year, which is also Valentine’s Day.  Spring is just over a month away, due to arrive on March 20th.  So, although winter is still very present, there is much to look forward to in the coming days.

One thing I have learned to appreciate over the years is the time winter allows for reflection, contemplation, and planning.  The wintry mix earlier in the day resulted in delays and cancellations of community activities.  While some people may have viewed these transactions as annoyances, others may have used the time to do constructive activities like spending time with loved ones, studying, exercising, cooking, baking, or creating art.

What we do with our time often entails mixing a variety of activities into allotted spaces, organized (or sometimes simply thrown) into our days.  Though the variety of activities can lead to stress, complications, and undesired events, there can also be learning, growth, and acquired perspective helpful for dealing with future situations.

Clearing Skies and Steering Time

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Clearing Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Today’s late afternoon skies turned blue within the clearing clouds, revealing the sun once again.  The light made the cold temperatures of my lunchtime walk and evening run and bike ride less daunting.  The wispy cirrus and cotton-like cumulous clouds dissipated like foam, allowing for a serene sunset of colors seen for miles around.

Watching the colors change above me as I let the issues of the day slip through my mind, I felt captured in life’s water, slowly making my way through each moment, allowing the minutes to wash away the dust and dirt of life.  Like a freshly washed vegetable, nature tossed me into the soup of life to add my own flavor to the recipe.

Recipes for Life

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Recipe for Life Lisa A. Wisniewski

In a sense, each day is a recipe to unfold, alter, and recreate ourselves and our environments.  Sometimes the ingredients are readily available, other times they are hard to find, expensive, or difficult to work with.  If we start with basic elements and concepts, we can build and expand to create a most eloquent outcome.

One thing we must remember is as with any recipe, chemistry and physics are involved.  The right amounts, specific actions and reactions, and combinations are what make the outcomes unique.  Each ingredient plays a part in the success or failure of the whole.

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Ingredients to Share Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like the ingredients in a recipe, we too have an impact upon the outcomes of projects and events in our lives.  The relationships we have are the chemistry and physics that allow for actions and reactions.  Just as flour, salt, and oil are considered staple ingredients in food creation, faith, hope, and love are the staples in forming relationships in life.  These relationships in turn give us spiritual, mental, and emotional food, allowing us to grow.

May the ingredients we find in our relationships lead us to create nourishing recipes for growth, learning, and sharing with others.  May the staples of faith, hope, and love yield the most eloquent and artistic outcomes possible, and may the elements of nature’s kitchen provide an open space for experimenting, observing, and creating.

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Sunrise in the East Lisa A. Wisniewski

Nature’s Kitchen

Sunrise in the east
Bright velvet beneath
The swirling clouds in the distance
Twirling without resistance
Reflecting the light all colors of the rainbow
In a stellar show
To greet the day anew
After the night parades through
The landscape of trees and fields
Where the breeze reveals
Peace, hope, grace, and all the fixings
Within God’s love spread through nature’s kitchen.

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Like a Blanket of Frosting Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like a blanket of frosting, the snow on the ground
Sends jeweled light crossing in and around
The delicate lattice of flakes
Drifted and gathered to watch the sun wake
The world up from its slumber
Beneath clouds and stars of ultimate number
Fading in the light’s field of vision
Slowly revealed through nature’s kitchen.

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Dried Teasels in the Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

Mixed and crafted with the finest ingredients,
The recipe has the most expert credence
Combining water, crystals, dried flowers, and snow
Evergreen lentils, ice showers, and seeds grown,
Hand chopped, stirred, and baked
With care only God could create
In the context of His mission
For the many guests of nature’s kitchen.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Thank You! Lisa A. Wisniewski

A Note of Thanks

Thanks once again to our readers for taking time to read our work.  Thanks also to God and nature for providing insight and experiences to share with others upon the journey.

-Lisa, Sadie, and Leo

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Sadie & Leo in the Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

Observing Nature’s Bonus

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Sunday Sunrise January 28, 2018 Lisa A. Wisniewski

The last days of January served up a plethora of nature’s best creations, including breath-taking sunrises, a snowy winter wonderland, gray patterned clouds, and deep blue skies.  The variety offered much to contemplate as I ran, biked, and walked throughout the week.  The theme of the week seemed to be pleasure from the unpredictable weather and resulting beauty in nature.

Bonus Bonanza

The word that kept coming to mind this week was bonus, for what was expected most certainly paled in comparison to what occurred.  Bonus is Latin for good and is defined as something in addition to what is expected or strictly due.   While we may most easily associate a bonus with extra money, we also need to remember that some things in life are invaluable, and therefore cannot be counted or adequately given a monetary equivalent.

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Bonus Bonanza in the Sunset Lisa A. Wisniewski

Things like love, time, patience, and understanding don’t have a given dollar amount or exchange rate.  However, they are of great value and importance, and often are granted to us by nature’s ways and God’s grace.  We don’t necessarily earn any of these bonuses, yet receive them through the generosity of others.

Where this gets a bit tricky is learning to recognize a bonus when we encounter it.  While we do expect the sun to rise, snow and rain to fall, and the skies to change color throughout our lives, we often take these events for granted or even dismiss them as simply part of life.  The sights I saw this week reminded me that every day is special in its own way and that nature is one of the most generous and abundant givers of bonuses.

Sunday Sermon in the Sky

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Sunday Sermon Lisa A. Wisniewski

Early Sunday morning, I had hoped to go for a bike ride before church.  However, the fog and cloud cover along with icy conditions made me think twice about my plans.  Instead, I worked on a proposal for work and spent time with my dogs.  As dawn began to break, the clouds parted, allowing the sun to filter down in haloed light, almost as if heaven itself was descending upon earth.

The sight made me recall some morning reflection readings about waiting for and listening to God.  As I watched the light change colors and the clouds dissipate, I felt as if God Himself was preaching from the skies.  “Here I am.  Lay your burdens upon Me and open your heart to My ways.  Listen, listen well and be aware of My presence in EVERY aspect of your life.”

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Stop, Look, and Listen Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sitting in the church pew listening to the priest and a guest speaker talking about an upcoming retreat, I recognized the theme of the talks was slowing down, listening to God, and taking time to open the mind to God.  In today’s busy world, these things are not always easy to do.  However, in doing them, we find answers to our issues, hope for the unknown, and a better road map to our desired destination.

It was clear to me that what I had seen and heard that morning was God’s grace at work, and not on a normal scale by any means.  My experience was a bonus in life, something given above what was expected, allowing for renewed energy and much fodder to share with others.

Snow and Tell

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Winter Wonderland Lisa A. Wisniewski

Tuesday morning dawned with snowflakes creating a winter wonderland in the woods and surrounding fields.  Every branch, leaf, twig, and feature in the landscape was outlined in white flakes.  The sight was better than the scene on a Hallmark card or any artist’s rendition of nature.  Driving to work, my mouth literally dropped open at the beauty before me, all made possible by nature.

My cell phone buzzed in my pocket, and I answered.  “I know you’re at work, but I need to tell you two things,” my friend on the other end of the line said.

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Skies Delight Lisa A. Wisniewski

She continued to tell me how after backing out of her garage, she looked down into the valley surrounding her house and saw the beauty in the snowflakes gracing every inch of the valley.  The sight reminded her of me and how much she wished I could be there to see it.  I recounted what I had seen on my way to work with her and how it had made me think of her as well.

My friend and I share a love of nature and an understanding of how God works in mysterious ways to lead us to where we need to be and what we need to see in order to continue upon our life’s journey.

The snow and call from my friend were definitely bonus items for me that day.  Our willingness to share our thoughts about what we saw was also a bonus for each of us.  What started out as one gift from nature grew into two gifts, shared and multiplied even further.  Who can put a price on that?

Wednesday Wonder

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Super Blue Moon Lisa A. Wisniewski

Wednesday morning, the dogs and I were looking for the super, blue, blood moon in the western sky.  The highly anticipated event, dubbed a lunar trifecta, included a bonus partial lunar eclipse.  The media in the area added much hype to nature’s show.

We saw the full, blue moon until around 5:30 AM when the clouds moved into the western sky where the moon was setting.  The highly anticipated sight of the blood moon and the eclipse was marred by the clouds.

However, I was not disappointed, for in the eastern sky, a sight to behold was taking shape.  The horizon line was lit with a deep blue and crimson glow.  As the minutes passed, the glow turned melon and deep orange.  As the sun rose closer into view, a golden glow like molten lava appeared.  I ran about the yard and driveway taking pictures from different vantage points trying to capture the sight.  The experience lit a fire in my soul, connecting me to nature in a child-like innocence.  It was a magical experience, as if Jesus had taken me by the hand and led me to the living water spoken of in the Gospels.

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Sunrise Show January 31, 2018 Lisa A. Wisniewski

Driving to work, I kept stealing glances at the eastern sky and pulled over on several occasions to take pictures.  Due to the change in elevation along my route,  I lost sight of the sun for a few minutes.  Turning due east and heading up a hill, the sun came back into view.

“Oh, man! This is better than Christmas!” I exclaimed as I drove to a section of the road where I could again pull over and take more pictures.  Though subconsciously I was worried about being late for work, I must admit the 8-year old inside took over my actions, dismissing my worries.

“If they ask you why you are late, just say you were spending time with God,” the 8-year old reasoned, “you can’t get in trouble for that!”

 

Sharing the Sun

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Oh, What a Sight Lisa A. Wisniewski

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I dialed my friend’s number.  She answered on the second ring.

“Can you see the sun where you are, or is it covered by the clouds?” I asked.

My friend burst out laughing and said, “As soon as I drove up the driveway this morning and turned east, I saw it and thought I had to call you again today, but you beat me to it.  It is so beautiful!”

We wished each other a good day and went about our normal routines.  Though we were miles apart, the skies above made us feel connected with each other and with nature.  If that is not a bonus multiplied, then I don’t know what is.

While we were both more than content with the sight before us, our desire to share our experiences once again made for a brighter outlook for the day and a renewal of sorts to our winter-weary souls.  I shared what I had seen with three other people that day, and everyone agreed the experience was spectacular and worth the time to stop, listen, and allow the moment and the message to sink in to our minds, bodies, hearts, and souls.

Meet Me Half Way

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Meet Me Halfway Lisa A. Wisniewski

The sunrise that day made me recall a recent meditation reading from the book Heaven Calling:

I love making myself known to you in vast and varied ways—in a child’s sweet hug, a blazing sunset, a stimulating workout, a raging thunderstorm, a song on the radio.  

 To get Moses’ attention, I met him in the form of a bush on fire but not consumed by the flames.  Once he was listening, our conversation began in earnest.

I’ve also tried to get your attention, wooing you in wondrous ways.  Follow Moses’ example: soak it in.  Confirm my reaching out to you by reading my Word and entering into conversation with me.  And always, always be on the lookout for me.  I will be courting you in a multitude of way s and a multitude of places.

 Will you meet me there?

 

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In the Middle Lisa A. Wisniewski

The experience also made me recall the lyrics to a popular song by Diamond Rio called Meet in the Middle:

It was 700 fence posts
From your place to ours
Neither one of us was old enough to drive a car
Sometimes it was raining, and sometimes it would shine
We wore out that gravel road between your house and mine

I start walking my way and you start walking mine
We meet in the middle ‘neath that old Georgia pine
We gain a lot of ground ‘cuz we both give a little
Ain’t no road too long when we meet in the middle…

Giving and Receiving

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Giving and Receiving Lisa A. Wisniewski

As the passage from Heaven Calling and the lyrics to the song illustrate, giving a little of our time and ourselves allows us to receive more than we expect.  Our offering of a little results in a bonus of sorts that we may or may not recognize.  The many bonus offerings granted to us through nature help to guide us throughout our lives, acting as warnings, sign posts, directions, and measuring sticks for growth.

Perhaps the following quote sums it up best:

“It is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

May we come to recognize the gifts and bonuses of each day granted to us within our journeys.  May the paths we take lead us to shared blessings, allowing us to give and receive gracefully and graciously.  May we come to understand ourselves and each other better through nature’s bonus.

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Sun in the Dawn Like a Rainbow Lisa A. Wisniewski

 

Nature’s Bonus

Sun in the dawn like a rainbow
With melon fronds and neon spokes
Emanating from a fiery core
Like lava that runs before
The horizon above the trees
Standing in attention in the breeze
Echoing in silence all around
The snow that brightens the frozen ground
Offering peace and hope and love
Through the generosity of nature’s bonus.

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Snow Fresh and New Lisa A. Wisniewski

Snow on the ground fresh and clean
Showing off every branch of every tree
Large and small, young or old,
Short and long, straight or with folds,
Every detail accented in white flakes
Like shimmering cement that creates
A scene and a time to remember
And gives thanks on high to heaven
For the serene moments
Given free in nature’s bonus.

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Dawn Once More Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sun in the dawn once more
With pink and purple light running across the shores
Of time to the sea
Where the lost find what they seek
In red, orange, yellow, and crimson,
Peach, gold, cantaloupe, and persimmon
Hues that morph and change
Above life’s storms by God’s grace
Sent to save thee over and over
Through the weave of nature’s bonus.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Thank You! Lisa A. Wisniewski

A Note of Thanks

Thanks to our readers for taking time to view this week’s post.  We sincerely appreciate your time and hope you find a bit of wisdom or hope to share with others.

-Lisa , Sadie, and Leo

Resources and Related Links

Bonus definition – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bonus

Heaven Calling book – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8038474-heaven-calling

Meet in the Middle song – https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/diamondrio/meetinthemiddle.html

Super blue blood moon – http://time.com/5126611/super-blue-blood-moon-pictures-2018/

Observing Gray Skies and Nature’s Church

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Feathered Patterns in the Clouds Lisa A. Wisniewski

The warm weather over the weekend melted most of the snow in our area, however, the skies remained mostly cloudy and gray.  This is typical for this time of year, and often what gives January a bad reputation.  While walking the other day, I noticed feathered patterns in the gray clouds.  The patterns reminded me of several old churches in my area and the beauty within them despite their dull gray, seemingly menacing facades.  Without a sound to be heard, it almost felt like I was in church, surrounded by the Holy Spirit and the angels in heaven hidden in the clouds.

Beauty Behind the Mask

As I continued to walk, I thought back to my childhood years spent “on vacation” with my great aunts in Etna, PA.  We sometimes went to church at St. Nicholas in Millvale, a Croatian church whose interior murals painted by Maxo Vanka were breathtaking even to my younger sister and me.  Actually, I think I spent more time looking at the enormous alter with its ornate fixtures below the domed ceiling full of Biblical images than I did paying attention to the mass.

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St. Nicholas Church Interior Courtesy Diocese of Pittsburgh

I must confess I did not understand some of the images, for they seemed more dark and dreary than spiritual or inviting.  There was one image of an angel that I always tried to concentrate on since it was the brightest of the mural landscape.  As the years wore on and the small parish dwindled, upkeep of the church and the murals grew impossible.  Eventually, the diocese closed the church building, merging the parishioners with another local church community (also named St. Nicholas) of similar ancestral descent.

The last mass I attended there was a funeral mass for one of my relatives shortly before the church closed. To my sadness, the building and interior were marred by years of dirt, dust, and residue from the nearby highway.  The experience made me reflect upon the “dust” we acquire as we go through life and the need to clean away “the gray” so we can see the brighter colors, which are much more pleasing to the eye and more positive to the mind.

But What’s Wrong with Gray?

As I continued to walk, I wondered aloud, “So what is wrong with gray? “

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What’s Wrong With Gray? Lisa A. Wisniewski

Well, nothing really, save for our perception of the color.  Too often, we see gray as depressing, sad, lonely, devoid of life, and drab.  However, gray can be quite professional, sophisticated, stable, dignified, and calming.

Gray is often thought of as the midpoint color between black and white, making it a neutral color.   The simplest way to create gray paint is to mix black and white, but gray can also be made by mixing the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow.  Taking this fact into consideration, gray is actually pretty complex and somewhat of a paradox. This may explain why gray has a somewhat two-fold color psychology.

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Teasels in Winter Lisa A. Wisniewski

On the positive side, gray is conservative, neutral, impartial, reserved, professional, and mature.  On the negative side, gray is non-emotional, boring, lifeless, and depressing.  The many shades of gray also have their own set of positive and negative connotations.  Lighter grays are considered soothing, calming, and enlightening.  Darker grays are more serious, solemn, and strict.

So Why Choose Gray?

We often use gray colors in our homes and projects because they provide balance.  The positive aspects offset the negative aspects, resulting in neutrality or a sense of stability.  A woman I know recently built a house.  She chose various shades of gray to create a rustic, comforting, stable atmosphere with a modern twist of sophistication, elegance, and tranquility.  Quite frankly, she designed a masterpiece, the perfect mix of old and new, elegance and charm, dignity and down-home.

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Balancing Act Lisa A. Wisniewski

Way back in 1993, a friend gave me a gray sweatshirt with a German shepherd on the front.  I wore it weekly for years in public, until my late dog, Nikki, tore a tiny piece from the front, right in the middle of the German shepherd.  I continued to wear the sweatshirt around the house, only to have my late dog, Luke, tear the cuffs at the end of both sleeves.  When my dog Sadie came along, she put teeth marks in the right shoulder.  At this point, I simply wore the sweatshirt to bed.  When my late dog Bo came into our lives in 2011, he ripped the bottom ribbing off.  Add to this years of movement, and you have a torn right elbow.  Yet, here we are in 2018, and I am still wearing this gray sweatshirt to bed.  Why? Because it is comfortable; represents all the good, bad, and indifferent I have been through in the past 25 years; and is my stable escape.  In short, it has many good qualities despite being gray.

When the Gray Skies Part

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Praise the Lord! Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I ran and biked this evening, the gray skies gave way to patches of blue and the sun.  Contemplating this, I realized I felt a sense of relief, as if the clouds had taken away a burden.  Once again, the skies reminded me of times spent in church with the sun streaming through the windows, showing all the tiny dust particles floating through the air in silent waves.

Continuing along my route, I saw several deer with their grayish tan winter coats.  Seeing the deer reminded me of how church congregations and communities form, each person coming forward to explore the common grounds of faith, hope, love, and life.

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Parting Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Each person has his or her own talents, traits, skills, ancestry, and customs to offer.  Combining the many different color traits of these people creates a gray landscape of intelligence, professionalism, reliability, neutrality, stability, and maturity.  However, the light of faith, hope, and love break up the gray, just as the sun and wind scatter the clouds, to reveal the masterpiece called life.

May time reveal to us the many shades of gray within ourselves and our lives. May we see the good gray can do, and be open to the changing skies above.  May our faith and hope lead us past the clouds in life to brighter days and more colorful landscapes within nature’s church. 

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Nature’s Church Lisa A. Wisniewski

Nature’s Church

Worlds apart, miles away,
Still God’s art unites us each day
In the skies above and the wind that blows,
United as one along life’s road
Where the call of the whippoorwill  and the crickets’ chirps
Are what fills the silence in nature’s church.

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In the Pews of Nature’s Church Lisa A. Wisniewski

Days and weeks, months and years
Unite and separate us as time clears
The muddy waters of the deep
So that under the stars we can see
The paths through yesterday, today, and tomorrow
By God’s ways and grace borrowed
Through the hues of the earth
Within the pews of nature’s church.

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In and Out and Back Again Lisa A. Wisniewski

In and out and back in again,
The tides shout, “Alleluia, Amen!”
As the sun rises and the moon descends
Within the light of the heavens
Watching from above for miles around
With God’s love and faith pronounced
In the mist of the hollows and gurgle of the creeks
Rising and falling as the swallows preach
Their sermons from the boughs of the birch
With hope renewed by nature’s church.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Gray in the Goldenrod Lisa A. Wisniewski

A Note of Thanks

Thanks to all of our readers for taking time to read this post and other posts of interest.  We appreciate your time and hope that sharing our experiences allows for inspiration and creativity in your lives.

-Lisa, Sadie, and Leo

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Inspired by the Light Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Color psychology – http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-gray.html

Making gray paint – http://artgallerygauvin.com/make-neutrals-from-primary-colours

Maxo Vanka – http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/art-architecture/2012/11/07/Documentary-tells-story-of-Maxo-Vanka-s-Masterpiece-in-Millvale/stories/201211070133

Neutral colors – https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-a-neutral-color-1973822

St. Nicholas Church – http://dioceseofpgh.org/parishes/saint-nicholas-millvale

Observing Snow’s Life Lessons

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Snow Days Lisa A. Wisniewski

The snow this week has kept me busy shoveling, which is one of my favorite winter activities.  The many flakes have piled up quickly, creating drifts and snow banks across the landscape.  The soft covering is like a blanket, yet reveals the contours of the land that are not readily visible when the grass is green.  The revealed contours reminded me of all the little aspects of life that often go unnoticed unless we are looking for them.

Snow Logic

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Brightened Landscape Lisa A. Wisniewski

Though dealing with the snow has not been easy and has made for some very slippery and challenging running expeditions, I have learned there are a number of benefits to the white stuff.  Among the most prominent:

  • Snow brightens the landscape, which is a welcome change, given the amount of darkness my area sees this time of year. Sunset has moved back to 5:22 PM, making the late afternoon hours a little brighter, but sunrise at 7:41 AM has made for some dark, shadowy starts to the days.  It is only in reflecting upon what we have seen that we find the beauty of both the light and the dark moments.
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Sparkling Jewels Lisa A. Wisniewski

“Life is like a landscape.  You live in the midst of it, but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance.” – Charles Lindbergh

  • The glistening snow sparkling like jewels in the midday sun is a sign of hope, offering additional light to guide us on our paths. Coincidentally, a number of the readings I have done this week focus on Psalm 119:

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” –Psalm 119:105

  • Snow is a reminder of how delicate and fragile life can be. Though the crystalline structure is strong on an atomic scale, it is quickly weakened when exposed to the larger elements of wind, sun, and other atmospheric effects.  While the flakes themselves may seem insignificant, the summation of them has an impact upon the environment.
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Good Exercise Lisa A. Wisniewski

“We are all something, but none of us are everything.” – Blaise Pascal

  • Shoveling snow is great exercise, both mentally and physically. Over the years, I have learned the science of how best to shovel my driveway.  Early on, I learned to shovel to the very edges, even into the lawn in some areas because additional snowfall can pile up quickly and lead to much narrow access.  The anal side of me quickly developed a pattern that allows for neat edges, almost as if a plow had done the work.  The youngster in me learned to have some fun pretending I was skating or playing ice hockey while shoveling, which really helps pass the time and opens up the imagination, which we all need, no matter what age we are.
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Prayer of the Heart Lisa A. Wisniewski

“Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.” –Albert Einstein

  • Snow often drives us indoors and puts limitations on our “normal” routines. In doing so, we may have to simplify or get back to basics.  For example, if the roads are not safe for driving, we may not get to the grocery store or be able to go out to a restaurant and have to use what we have in the pantry to create our meals.  This is not a bad thing, for it forces us to get creative, rely on our own skills, and maybe even pray a little (never a bad thing) when we think we may not have enough of what we need.

“When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.”- John Bunyan

Beauty of Simplicity

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Simple Beauty Lisa A. Wisniewski

This simple aspect is probably what I enjoy second most about snow.  Simple does not necessarily mean easier or less detailed, but it does mean more natural and understandable.  In academic and work environments throughout my life, I have learned the simple solutions are the most efficient, effective, and memorable.  Too often, we look at a problem, deem it complex, and immediately gear our minds up for a complicated answer or process.  In doing so, we overlook the obvious, minimize the impact of the little details, and may even devalue the most valuable aspect of the solution.

Long ago, I learned how to do proofs in geometry.  I remember the teacher stressing that just because we were proving a theory did not mean the answer had to be complex, overly long, or riddled with logic.  In fact, many of the proofs only required three or five steps.

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Fundamental Elements Lisa A. Wisniewski

Later in my college years, I learned more about the great mathematical and philosophical thinkers.  In studying their work, I found many of their solutions to be quite simple.  Though some of their explanations were long- winded and full of unnecessary or redundant wording, the actual basis for their arguments hinged on a fundamental element found in everyday life.

Many of these great thinkers deemed the simplest answers as the most beautiful.  In my experiences, I have found this to be true.  In reading through scripture, it appears God and the Biblical characters felt much the same.  For example, David did not use a complex, ornate, overly detailed method to slew the Philistine (1 Samuel 17:48-51).  He used a simple stone and a slingshot.  That’s it, no technical gadgets, no army of thinkers, no parade of soldiers, no pomp and circumstance.  A stone and a slingshot did in the most feared Philistine.

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Simple Solace Lisa A. Wisniewski

Possibly we could use David’s example to solve the fears and issues we have in our own lives.  Instead of fussing over complex, intricate plans, we could simplify by facing the truth, admitting an issue exists, and relying on our faith to see us through the parts of life we cannot control.  Just because the outcome may not be as we envision, this does not mean we have failed.  For in trying, we have learned, grown, and opened our minds, which are key elements to finding success in many aspects of life.

“Simplicity is the art of sophistication.” –Leonardo Da Vinci

Simple Yet Unique

If we strip the snow down to its basic elements, we find it is simply frozen water, H2O, two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, the most basic of elements on the periodic table.  It is in the combining of the basic elements we get some of the unique properties of water:

  • Existing in three physical states of solid, liquid, and gas
  • Being a universal solvent, or dissolving more substances than any other liquid
  • Having a neutral pH of 7 (pure water specifically, other types may be slightly acidic or basic)
  • Having a lower density in solid form than in liquid form, which is why ice floats
  • Having a high heat index, allowing it to absorb a lot of heat before it gets hot
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Ice Crystals Lisa A. Wisniewski

The combining of the elements in water also make for the complex crystalline structures of snow.  As water molecules move through the clouds and freeze into ice, they develop facets, or arms.  The arms in turn grow branches.  The branches then morph into various shapes, making for a unique overall structure.  The rate of the crystal growth depends upon temperature and the path the molecules take through the clouds.

Like the snow flakes, we each grow at different rates, often influenced by our environment.  We are made up of simple elements, yet the combination is what makes us unique.  So, we are all flakes of some type with diverse facets and branches that link us together in the atmosphere called life.

May the experiences we have in life allow us to brighten the landscape for others.  May the light we bring to the world lead us to discover the beauty of simplicity and basic elements.  May this beauty inspire, sustain, and strengthen our faith for the journey through life’s lessons.

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Rolling Water Over Stones Lisa A. Wisniewski

Life’s Lessons

Like the rolling water over the stones
We find life offers many roads
Upon which to travel and explore
Where we learn that less is more,
Weak is strong, and silence is the word
In the song that is most heard
Through the clouds to the sea
In life’s lessons running around thee.

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Like the Sunrise Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like the sunrise and the sunset,
We find how to forgive and forget,
Live and be, hope and sow
The seeds that need to grow
Within and around the complex maze
Of time’s surround and space
Left for us to unwind and weave
In life’s lessons as they come to be.

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Like the Snow Blowing in the Wind Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like the snow blowing in the wind
We come and go and come around again,
Traversing back and forth
As we come to have and then have no more,
Yet continue onward despite ourselves
With hope inside for the good Lord’s help
To hold our hand and guide us through
The storms that life pulls into view
Where we become who we are
In life’s lessons under the moon and stars.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Life Lessons Lisa A. Wisniewski

A Note of Thanks

We sincerely appreciate our readers and the time spent reading our posts.  We also look forward to sharing life experiences to help make the struggles of the journey less lonesome and more positive.

-Lisa, Sadie, and Leo

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Sadie and Leo in the Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

Observing January and Nature’s Heart

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January Sunrise Lisa A. Wisniewski

While running earlier in the week, I heard a noise.  The sound was muffled at first, almost like a low hum.  Looking around, I saw nothing to indicate the source of the noise.  It sounded familiar, yet I could not identify it.  As I came closer to the neighbor’s barn, the noise grew louder.  My mind concentrated on the sound as my eyes scanned for the source, yet found nothing visible to indicate either the source or the noise’s identity.

 

Name That Sound

What is that sound? I know it, yet I can’t place it.  This is going to drive me insane if I don’t figure this out…

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Running Water Lisa A. Wisniewski

Then it struck me.  The sound was water running.  With temperatures below freezing since before Christmas, it has been some time since I’ve heard water running outside.  The source was melting snow and ice from the neighbor’s barn roof.  The sun and rising temperatures had allowed the solid water crystals to change into liquid while the roof’s slope gave movement to the molecules, resulting in a very low trickling sound.

Laughing at myself for not being able to identify the sound right away, I trotted toward home and wondered how often in life we miss the little details and clues that could help us solve our problems.  The experience also made me recall the following bit of wisdom from a church bulletin I had read years ago:

When we get tangled up in our problems, be still.  God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.  Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.  Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.

 

Instruments of Peace

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Sound of Peace Lisa A. Wisniewski

Reflecting on the sound of the running water brought a sense of peace inside.  The experience made me think about how we can still find solace despite the turmoil and drama in the world around us.  While running and biking are my go-to cure-alls for everything life throws my way, I also turn to music as an escape.  The music may be a song on the radio, a sound in nature, or even silence in the dawn.

Regardless of the source, it is the sound that resonates within, moving the mind, body, heart, and soul to a simpler, less complicated, more comfortable atmosphere.  The melody and rhythm appeal to the emotions, setting one free of internal stress.  Though many of the musical instrument used today are electronic and complex in construction, the sounds they make can be stripped down to basic elements, most of which are found naturally in nature.  As such, nature offers instruments of peace in a grand symphony every day.

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Be Still… Lisa A. Wisniewski

Though we may or may not recognize the song being played, the intent is to catch our attention, make us stop briefly, and experience the wonder of life.  Granted, the moment may be fleeting, but it is the experience that gives the soul strength and energy to endure.

“Nature’s music is never over; her silences are pauses, not conclusions.” – Mary Webb

Contrasts and Conflicts

While running and biking tonight, I heard the sound of water running all around me in the falling rain.  The temperature soared into the mid 50°F range, a welcome change from the single digit and below zero temperatures of days prior.  The warmer air felt refreshing as it breezed past me along my route.  Though I was wet, I was not cold, another welcome change.

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Conflicting Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

The stark contrast in weather brought to mind the origin of January.  The month is named after the Roman God Janus, also known as the god of doors.  It was believed Janus represented all beginnings and had the ability to see all things past and future.  Janus is often depicted as having two heads looking in opposite directions to represent past and future.

Often, our past experiences conflict with what is to come in life.  We may start out on what we believe to be the right path and end up totally lost.  We may find failure, difficulties, and much grief at one point of life and slowly come to see success, less hardship, and peace in time.  Our lives are full of conflicting schedules, obligations, and responsibilities.  While we do our best to find a good balance, we don’t always have control over the outcomes of our situations.

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Dawn: Looking Forward and Behind Lisa A. Wisniewski

We also don’t have two heads like Janus, allowing us to see past and future, which is probably a good thing.  If we knew what was to happen next in life, we may never find what we are seeking, for fear, anxiety, stress, ego, or some other characteristic may paralyze us.  It is in not knowing that we are forced to try, learn, grow, and move forward.  It is also in the unknown that we find our faith.

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heart and Soul

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January’s Heart and Soul Lisa A. Wisniewski

Observing the ice, snow, sun, rain, moon, stars, and skies over the past week has lead me to see the heart and soul of January, a month full of beginnings, endings, music, contrasts, conflicts, and deep meaning.  Earlier in the month, we saw the full wolf moon (January 2).  As we approach the heart of the month, we will see the new moon (January 17).  At the end of the month, we will see the blue moon (January 31).

Each moon has its own name, meaning, history, and reason for existence.  The surrounding skies set the stage for each moon’s rising and setting.  In between, the dawns dance to the music of the sun and clouds as time moves along in the river to the sea.  Our experiences and interactions with all of the above give us perspective for reflecting upon the past, living in the present, and planning for the future.

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Moving On Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like the running water mentioned earlier, we find ourselves moving along and reacting to the changes around us.  We find our hearts and souls moved with time, emotion, and faith in both the known and unknown.  While we may not always feel or recognize the details at work in our lives, we are very much a part of our surroundings, and our surroundings have a great influence upon our well-being.

May January’s days open our eyes and minds to the possibilities and opportunities before us.  May our past experiences not hold us back from future endeavors, and may we hear the music of the month in nature’s heart, allowing us to find inner peace, strength, and hope for the remaining miles of our journey.

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Snow on the Pond Lisa A. Wisniewski

Nature’s Heart

Snow on the pond, all frosty white
Under the blue beyond the darkening skies
As day comes to pass and night begins to call
In winter’s grasp within the seasons that fall
Like dominoes over each other in time’s game
Above and below the skies parade
Of sun and clouds, light and dark
That come about within nature’s heart.

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Deer at Sunset Lisa A. Wisniewski

Little deer feeding at sunset
Takes care to stay near where it can get
The nourishment it needs to survive
As it travels time’s seas beneath the skies
That grant it grace and pardon
As the days harken
Through beginnings and endings, stops and starts
Within the mending of nature’s heart.

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Sunset Between the Clouds Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sunset in the distance between the clouds
Confirms the Lord’s existence as the day comes around
To meet the night time skies
Where the owl greets that shadows that hide
All the little creatures of the earth
Settled beneath the leaves, snow, and dirt
Cuddled up in a winding maze of art
Created within the ways of nature’s heart.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Thank You Lisa A. Wisniewski

A Note of Thanks

Thanks to everyone who takes time to read and view our posts.  We sincerely appreciate your time and any comments you may have.  We also hope our writings offer inspiration and/or help in enduring life’s storms and an awareness of all nature has to offer.

-Lisa, Sadie, and Leo

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Moon Over the Stars Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Origin of January – https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/months/january.html

Roman God Janus – https://www.britannica.com/topic/Janus-Roman-god

Observing a New Year & January’s Moons

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Sunrise January 1, 2018 Lisa A. Wisniewski

The cold, Arctic winds of December have continued into January, making for a rather frigid start to the new year in my area.  Snow that fell on Christmas Day is still on the ground in some areas due to the cold temperatures.  Other areas have been blown clear by the winds, which are now gusting at 10-20 mph, making the temperature feel even colder than what the thermometer is reading.  This condition is known as wind chill, or how cold the air temperature feels upon the skin with the wind taken into account.

Weather Wisdom and Resolve

With overnight low temperatures in the negative digits and daytime high temperatures less than 20° F, running and biking have been a challenge.  In my experience through the years, the keys to keeping warm despite the cold include:

  • Staying dry-Water or anything wet against the skin (including sweat) acts as a cooling agent.
  • Staying active-Continued physical activity helps keep the body’s temperature steady.
  • Layering- Layers of cotton and fleece work to insulate the body while allowing air flow for cooling to keep sweat to a minimum.
  • Avoiding direct wind contact – Wind also acts as a cooling agent and can contribute to frostbite and hypothermia. Staying at lower elevations where the wind is less dominant and taxing to the body are key.
  • Reducing exposure – Reducing the amount of skin exposed to the elements is a key factor in avoiding frostbite and hypothermia.
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Warmth in the Light Above Lisa A. Wisniewski

Running in the cold can be very taxing on the heart and other muscles.  When running in the cold, I typically reduce the number of miles run, which in turn reduces the amount of time my body is exposed to the elements.  Biking is a bit different because though you are exerting energy while pedaling, you are also exposing your body to more air and wind.

Earlier in the week, I was fortunate to be able to run and bike, but today’s wind chill, ice, and wind gusts at 20mph forced me inside to use the treadmill for the first time since last winter.  Biking was out of the question given the conditions.  Based on the National Weather Service Wind Chill Chart, the temperature at the time I would have been running and biking was -9°F.

Full and Super Moons

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Wolf Moon on the Rise Lisa A. Wisniewski

Along with the cold temperatures, January brought the Full Wolf Moon on the second day of the month.  Other names for this full moon include: Old Moon, Ice Moon, Snow Moon, and Moon After the Yule.  The full moon on January 2 was also a supermoon.

This month will have a second full moon on January 31.   This second full moon is known as a Blue moon.

Different Sights Under One Sky

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Night Light Lisa A. Wisniewski

All the different moon names and definitions made me consider the variety in the skies this time of year.  Though cloud cover is an issue, clear nights allow one to see the many stars, planets, and constellations overhead.  Though the sky was clear this morning, the dogs and I were not able to see Jupiter and Mars in the southeastern sky or the Quadrantids meteor shower in the northern sky.

The planets are to provide a special display called a conjuction January 6-7.  The conjunction between Jupiter and Mars pairs the largest planet in the solar system with one of the smallest planets, making for a unique observation.

Resolutions and Solutions

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Resolve in the Old Walnut Tree Lisa A. Wisniewski

Contemplating the sights in the sky led me to thoughts about New Year’s resolutions and the variety of topics often entailed.  Though my family was never into resolutions or even goal setting, we did always have a list of hopes or things we hoped to accomplish.  Sometimes we had a time frame for these hopes, but most times, we were satisfied with effort put forth in making strides toward the hope.  Perhaps the following quote, which I recently read explains our thought process more succinctly:

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K Le Guin

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What Matters Most Lisa A. Wisniewski

Seeing this quote brought to mind a favorite song from my teenage years titled Only Here for a Little While.  The version I remember was sung by Billy Dean, a rather quiet country singer with a knack for making poignant songs popular.  The words that came to mind were the opening lines:

Gonna hold who needs holdin’
Mend what needs mendin’
Walk what needs walkin’
Though it means an extra mile
Pray what needs prayin’
Say what needs sayin’
Cause we’re only here for a little while

The song, written by Richard C. Leigh and Wayland Holyfield, goes on to explain the story behind the chorus and main theme:

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What’s the Hurry? Lisa A. Wisniewski

Today I stood singin’ songs and sayin’ Amen
Saying goodbye to an old friend who seemed so young
He spent his life workin’ hard to chase a dollar
Putting off until tomorrow the things he should have done
Made me start thinking “What’s the hurry, why the runnin’?
I don’t like what I’m becoming, gonna change my style
Take my time and I take it all for granted ”
Cause we’re only here for a little while

Gonna hold who needs holdin’
Mend what needs mendin’
Walk what needs walkin’
Though it means an extra mile
Pray what needs prayin’
Say what needs sayin’
Cause we’re only here for a little while

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Love Like I’ll Never See Tomorrow Lisa A. Wisniewski

Let me love like I’ll never see tomorrow
Treat each day as though it’s borrowed
Like it’s precious as a child
Whoa, take my hand
Let us reach out to each other
Cause we’re only here for a little while

Gonna hold who needs holdin’
Mend what needs mendin’
Walk what needs walkin’
Though it means an extra mile
Pray what needs prayin’
Say what needs sayin’
Cause we’re only here for a little while

Resolutions and Balance

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Do Your Best and Leave the Rest to God Lisa A. Wisniewski

Contemplating the words made me think that my hope for this year is to do the best I can to live as the opening lines and chorus state, doing what needs done, taking time to have compassion and consideration for others, and maintain somewhat of a balance in life and work, complete with exercises for the mind, body, and soul.  In other words, actually live life.

While this may or may not be a huge change for me or make an impact in the rest of the world, it is a place to start.  And sometimes that is really what we need: a base point from which to start and to gage our progress, no matter how large or small, fast or slow, simple or complex.

As I wrestle with the balance part of the equation in my mind, I am reminded of another quote I read that is simple yet profound:

“The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything or nothing.” – Lady Nancy Astor

Keep On Keeping On

In looking back at 2017, I realize I have made progress in some areas of life and need to work on others.  Some of the “vital statistics” I keep help give me guidance on where to turn next.  A few numbers that seem to speak most to me include:

  • 942.6 miles of running in 2017
  • 346 biking days (days when I went for a bike ride)
  • 271 consecutive biking days from March 16 through December 11, a personal best
  • 92 poems written
  • 52 blog posts written
  • 14 number of years I have lived in my house, of which each year has been a lesson in character building
  • 9 number of years my dog Sadie has lived with me and graced my life with amazing blessings
  • 1 number of years since adopting my dog Leo, who is proving to be yet another blessing and Godsend
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Sadie Looks Toward the Light Lisa A. Wisniewski

So, no matter how simple, complex, easy, or difficult you may or may not make the map of your journey through life, or how many statistics you may or may not keep, remember perspective and perseverance are keys to the mindset of finding one’s way AND accomplishing both wants and needs.

Some days are easier than others.  Difficult days are not necessarily tests of will, but rather quizzes on building character and faith that don’t always have right or wrong answers.  Oh, and if all else fails, turn to nature and the skies—they will never stop trying to help you find your way.

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Little Leo in the Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

May the new year offer opportunities for growth in all aspects of life.  May the experiences we have allow us to share with one another what we have learned, as well as what we may accomplish.  May the steps we take along the way under the January moons lead us closer to our destination.

 

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January Moon in the Clouds Lisa A. Wisniewski

January Moon 2018

January moon way up high
Orange against the deep blue sky
Above the snow-covered fields and trees
Where grows the clover in summer’s green
Now pale from the cold, Arctic wind
Blowing above the swales with day’s end
As night comes softly calling,
Calling in the silence below the snow falling.

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January Moon Round & Full Lisa A. Wisniewski

January moon round and full
Makes winter swoon as it pulls
The season along with the tides
In nature’s song that rides
Every ebb and flow in time’s seas
Through inlets sown along the tributaries
Made long ago and far away
When the earth was an unknown landscape.

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Dawn of a New Year Lisa A. Wisniewski

January moon presiding over a new year
Turning white in the blue expanses made clear
By the cold, cold wind
That holds, holds within
Itself the many mysteries of life
Unleashed in the skies
To wander under upon the journey’s miles
Leading to the dawn’s silent smile.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Arctic Chill Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Blue moon – https://www.space.com/15455-blue-moon.html

Conjunction between Jupiter and Mars – http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/mars-jupiter-conjunction/

Full Wolf Moon – https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/wolf.html

Quadrantid meteor shower – http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-quadrantid-meteor-shower

Supermoon – https://www.space.com/34515-supermoon-guide.html

Wind chill – https://weather.com/science/weather-explainers/news/wind-chill-feels-like-temperature-winter-explainer

Wind chill chart – http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/cold/wind_chill.shtm