Observing September

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September Sun Lisa A. Wisniewski

September is traditionally a transition month in my area, bringing the last days of summer and first days of fall, the return of students to school, and movement away from long hours of daylight to more hours of darkness.  The shifts are have the potential to be subtle or stark, depending upon conditions, perspective, and circumstances.

Shift, Shift, Shift

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September Colors For the Soul Lisa A. Wisniewski

Through the years, I have found observing these transitions to be helpful physically, mentally, and spiritually.  The physical aspect comes into play as my body is challenged to rise above weather conditions in order to accomplish routine tasks, exercise regularly, and enjoy nature’s offerings.  Mentally, the increasing darkness historically throws a monkey wrench into my thought process, making me step back a bit and come up with a Plan B on more than one occasion.  Spiritually, I find myself drawn to the skies, constantly looking for the light to guide me on my journey.

The process of observing, adjusting, adapting, and accepting comes both consciously and subconsciously.   Looking around, I can see the changes in the colors of the trees, plants, grass, and fields.  I am cognizant of the gentle push nature is placing upon me.  Under the surface, I may or may not be thinking about the impending transitions.  In either case, time is moving me along, whether I wish to go or not.

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Changing Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Perhaps St. Paul had similar feelings and experiences as he stepped away from his former life of persecuting the church and into his role as proclaimer of the Lord’s work through Jesus.  As he describes in his letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, and other groups, he faces the constant struggle of being human.

“In all things we suffer tribulation, but we are not distressed; we are sore pressed, but we are not destitute; we endure persecution, but we are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we do not perish; always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame…Wherefore we do not lose heart.  On the contrary, even though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”- 2 Corinthians 4: 8-11, 16

Signs Along the Road

While running and biking this week, I found myself struggling with demands of the mind, body, and soul, as well as life in general.  In an effort to put some space between my warring factions, I searched for signs in nature to lead me peace, perspective, wisdom, or anything helpful.

My quest allowed me to find a number of wildflowers, trees, and animals.  Some of the highlights include:

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Doe Grazing Lisa A. Wisniewski

A doe munching on acorns in the front yard of a house along my biking route.  The doe did not seem to mind my closeness, allowing me to come within 15-20 feet to take pictures.  Though she acknowledged my presence with occasional long, alert stares directly into my eyes, she was preoccupied with her own agenda.  The sight made me consider how often we recognize God in life, yet fail to fully pay attention.

 

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Burning Bush Lisa A. Wisniewski

A burning bush, vibrant with deep red leaves.  The bush caught my full attention with its colors, standing out from the surrounding landscape.  Seeing the bush made me contemplate how often in life the answers we are seeking are before our eyes, yet we fail to see or accept them because of their packaging or appearance.  In a society that craves the ornate, fashionable, or trendy, we miss so much because we can’t get past the surface appearance, as the following quote illustrates:

Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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All Ears Lisa A. Wisniewski

A rabbit with its ears straight up, as if listening to the entire world around it.  The sight reminded me of Jesus asking the people to hear:

“He who has ears, let him hear.” – Matthew 11:15

White pine trees molting, or shedding their needles.  The molting process is normal and seasonal for evergreens.  White pines have the most noticeable needle drop with very distinct yellowing needles amid green needles.  The trees reminded me of how we often need to purge or clean out in life.

In a world seemingly obsessed with possessions, it is

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Molting White Pine Tree Lisa A. Wisniewski

sometimes difficult to prioritize or give adequate value to our material objects.  Likewise, with so many options for information “sources” these days, it can be difficult to discern truth from fiction, good from bad, or useful from useless.  As a result, we find ourselves cleaning, donating, reflecting, or even retreating in an effort to free our minds, bodies, and souls of all the clutter.

Bright patches of late summer daisies and Rudbeckia.  The delicate, almost whimsical petals stood out from the browning grass, offering a ray of sunshine to my soul.  Seeing the flowers reminded me of how often in life people or nature can lift our spirits, offer a change of perspective, or give us hope.

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Daisies Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Rudbeckia Lisa A. Wisniewski

 

 

 

 

 

 

May the days of September offer us opportunities to find what we are seeking, acknowledges changes in and around us, and broaden our perspectives.  May the colors we see act as guides upon our journey, helping us to learn, grow, and share.  May the transitions we make in life lead us to peace and overall wellness, allowing us to continue the cycle of giving and receiving upon our faith journey.

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September Personified Lisa A. Wisniewski

September

September, colorful and unique,
Enchanting as it unfolds like a melody,
Playing in the wind blowing
Through the trees swaying and growing
Ever so vibrant at summer’s end;
Morning rose, gold, green, and red,
Burgundy, orange, sunbeam, and violet
Etching the landscape in the river of time
Running through the days upon the shore line.

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September, Quiet and Strong Lisa A. Wisniewski

September, quiet and strong,
Entwined in nature’s song
Penetrating the clouds in the sky
To embrace the sun’s light
Expelling the shadows in the fields,
Moving with compelling zeal
Backed by God’s love and grace
Enveloping the sod as the mist evaporates,
Rolling through the paths trod upon the journey made.

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Faithful and Secure Lisa A. Wisniewski

September, faithful and secure,
Encamped at the foothold of time’s store,
Placed for all to see
The wake of the waves as they stream,
Ebbing and flowing, rising and falling
Moving with time’s glowing moments calling
Before the hills and dales,
Echoing a the will of nature’s sails
Rustling to fulfill God’s promise unfailed.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Wildflowers Along the Road Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

2 Corinthians 4 – http://biblehub.com/2_corinthians/4-8.htm

Common sense – https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ralphwaldo122708.html

Matthew 11:15 – http://biblehub.com/matthew/11-15.htm

Rudbeckia – https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ruhi2

White pine tree molting – http://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/seasonal-needle-drop

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Observing Life on Spin Cycle

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Spinning Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Have you ever felt as if you were living in a blender or a washing machine on spin cycle? It seems the past week has been that way for us with so many end of summer activities, preparations for the coming change in seasons, and life’s way of changing plans.  Despite the chaos, we have managed to enjoy both the sun and the rain, get some projects done, and do a lot of reflecting on where we have been and need to be.

Changes All Around

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Maple Trees Turning in the Woods Lisa A. Wisniewski

While running and biking, I noticed colors of fall starting to creep into the landscape.  Burning bushes are now turning from green to red, bringing more color variety into the landscape.  Maple, buckeye, walnut, and cherry trees are shedding some leaves, allowing for better visibility into the woods.  Crops in the fields are being harvested by neighbors and local farmers, always a sure sign that summer is winding down.

Seeing all the changes in the fields and woods has been a good reminder of the many blessings bestowed upon this thing called life.  Though some of the changes bring a sense of sadness, others act as a marker or a guide allowing one to see work accomplished and lessons learned.  Though I am no longer attending classes or required to go to school, I am learning much in nature’s classroom each day.

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Buckeyes in the Breeze Lisa A. Wisniewski

It is the lessons we learn that lead us through the cycle of life.  Some lessons are difficult, others much easier to grasp, understand, and apply.  As we go through life, we find some lessons have negative results, making us step back a bit and reconsider our perspective.  Other lessons have more positive impacts upon us, allowing us the strength to change our perspective and move beyond where we have been.

Perhaps the following quote sums this up best:

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda

Circles in the Sky

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Clouds Circling Around Lisa A. Wisniewski

Looking at the sky the other day, I noticed the clouds were swirled in circles of different sizes.  The sight reminded me that each chapter of life is like the circles, taking us around an orbit of sorts.  The path may be smooth and neat or more winding and even a bit messy.  No matter the neatness or complexity, time leads us through every nook and cranny, offering opportunities to explore, learn, grow, and share experiences.

The circles we make within our lives are what connect us to other people, places, and things.  Sometimes the circles break, leading us to spin off in a different direction.  Other times, circles collide, absorbing us in to a new set of circumstances, people, and places.  These circles lead us to adapt, accept, and change in time.  They may also lead us to forgive, forget, and find new ways to survive.  Though not every circle is embraced by the heart, mind, and soul, each circle is necessary to find what we are seeking under the skies.

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No Limitations Lisa A. Wisniewski

The greatest limits we have to overcome lie within ourselves.  Once we learn to recognize our limitations and their roots, we can adjust our thoughts or processes to obtain more desirable results, as the following quote illustrates:

“How far you go in life depends upon your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver

Full Moon in the Night

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Full Corn Moon September 2017 Lisa A. Wisniewski

The rise of the Full Corn Moon on September 6 was obscured by clouds, but once the moon rose to its apex, it was visible.  This year, Neptune was directly opposite the full moon, allowing light to be reflected off of the planet to make the moon appear brighter.

The cloud cover on the night of the full moon reminded me of how sometimes in life we have a sense of something we cannot see, yet know it is there.  This sense is often related to our faith, as well as our knowledge.  We use our faith and our knowledge as compasses to help steer our thoughts and emotions.  When things spin out of control in life, our faith and knowledge are tested.  Whether we pass or fail is not so much determined by the outcome, but more so by the inner workings we cannot see.  It is in these inner workings that we find our character, which in turn develops our attitude:

“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” – William James

Last Flowers of Summer’s Time

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Golden Rod Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I pedaled my bike tonight, rain started to fall.  Though I really did not want to get wet, I kept pedaling along my route, searching for wild flowers to brighten my spirit.  I found some goldenrod at its peak color of deep yellow and gold, a few tiny buttercups, several thin patches of chicory, and black eyed Susan.  Returning home, I found the autumn joy sedum in full bloom by the garage and a late crop of red raspberries ready to be picked in the garden.  The yellow, blue, orange, pink, and red hues stood out in the shadows being cast under the quickly darkening skies.

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Red Raspberries Lisa A. Wisniewski

Seeing the colors made me contemplate what determines our likes and dislikes in life.  I like brighter warm colors like yellow, orange, and red that lift my spirit, but am also fond of cooler blues and greens that seem to calm my soul.  Though I prefer the added light of spring and summer, I also enjoy the fall colors and cooler mornings, which are great for running.  While winter is not my favorite season, I do appreciate the time if offers to reflect, especially in quiet moments with the snow falling gently from the sky.

It has taken me many years of searching and going through the seasons’ cycles to determine what I like and how to get through moments I don’t enjoy very much.  Like the colors and types of flowers that come and go in nature, my emotions have peak times for blooming and moving me inside to places I do and don’t want to be.  However, I realize without this cycle, I would not really be living life.  Once again, it is one’s perspective that plays the largest part in where we go:

“A weed is no more than a flower in disguise.” – James Lowell

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Black Eyed Susan Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Autumn Joy Sedum Lisa A. Wisniewski

Cycles and Circles of Life

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Cycle of Life Personified Lisa A. Wisniewski

The experiences of the past week both in nature, at home, and at work have confirmed my long-held belief that the circles which surround us help define who we are.  In going through these circles, we experience cycles of life and growth.  While exploring these circles and cycles, we find zones of comfort and joy, displeasure and sadness, completeness and solace, and chaos and uncertainty.  All of the areas combined play a part in our willingness to explore.

As the following quote alludes, what we know and don’t know often lead us to some very complex questions and answers:

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” – Sir Francis Bacon

May the cycles and circles of life lead us to explore, change, and grow.  May the experiences we have within ourselves and with others allow us to find perspective and wisdom, and may our doubts and fears not confine us or define who we become.

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Misty Morning Lisa A. Wisniewski

Who We Become

Misty mornings under crimson skies
Spread before thee to conquer the night
And lead the way
Through the shadows of the trees and the river of time’s parade
To pockets of peace and moments of reflection
Where we come to see the light of life’s intercessions,
Full of changing times and tides
That rearrange each day in this life
Helping to define who we become
After the sun sets in the sky of heaven above.

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Buttercup & Chicory Lisa A. Wisniewski

Wild flowers and trees growing along the path
Add color and creativity to the moments had,
Building character, attitude, hope, and faith
As the moments move with the help of God’s grace
Through the cycles and seasons of life
With and without reasons in due time
Taking us around and about and around again
Like the winding route of the river within
Leading us through the waters to define who we become
As our days of youth give way to wisdom.

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Swirling Clouds Lisa A. Wisniewski

Clouds in the sky swirling about
Reflect the light as the earth turns around,
Casting shadows that are lost in the sun’s rays
As the river flows on toward another day
Full of more cycles and circles that spin
Us around before the moments granted and given
Through the blessings of life seen and unseen
That come to guide us to our destiny
Ultimately defining who we become
Through faith and hope and God’s love.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Perspective at Work Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Full Corn Moon – https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-names

Neptune Position Relative to Full Moon – http://www.newsweek.com/september-full-moon-fall-equinox-harvest-moon-2017-660176

Observing the Work of Summer

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Late Summer Sun at Work in the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

The end of August brought with it some final blooms on the wild flowers along my running, biking, and walking routes, as well as some foggy morning sunrises and more than a few late afternoon skies full of various cloud shapes and types.  The variety in the week made me contemplate how summer has worked to create nature’s beauty before me.

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Pinkweed Lisa A. Wisniewski

Late Bloomers

While biking this week, I found the following wild flowers with colorful blooms:

  • Pinkweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum), known for its tiny clusters of pink flowers often seen growing in fields and clearings and along the road
  • Red clover (Trifolium pretense), distinguished by dense, pink flower heads and leaflets in clusters of three
  • Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris), with its delicate, violet clusters sitting atop dark green lance-shaped leaves
  • Tall Ironweed (Vernonia altissima), with its dark purple flowers bursting with stringy, delicate petals
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Tall Ironweed Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Heal-all Lisa A. Wisniewski

Seeing the flowers, along with several others that I have not been able to identify yet, reminded me that no matter what stage we are in life, there is always a way to grow, flourish, and be thankful for what one has.  It is a matter of perspective that either helps or hinders us.  Perhaps the following quote sums it up best:

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

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Sunrise, August 30, 2017 Lisa A. Wisniewski

It’s Not Over Yet

While many people I know are lamenting the events following Labor Day (September 4, 2017), also known as the unofficial end of summer, I find myself thankful for all summer has provided and will continue to provide until September 22, when the official first day of autumn arrives.  (Why rush an ending to a good thing when you don’t have to?)

While every season works hard to sustain its events, summer in my area has the duty to maintain what spring starts, which can be a difficult task given the extremes in temperature, rainfall, and human intervention.  Summer is the shepherd leading the lambs of spring into adulthood, providing nourishment for growth and strength to endure the coming autumn and winter seasons.

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The Good Shepherd at Work Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like many references in the Bible to sheep and shepherds, summer offers opportunities for the lost to be found, cared for, and brought back to life.  Though God works through all seasons, we often need the light of summer to see and feel His presence.

“Jesus said, I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me.” – John 10:14

Abundant Opportunities

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Always Room for Growth Lisa A. Wisniewski

Summer also offers time away from normal academic routines for many.  While the break is nice, it does not necessarily mean we are not learning.  Every day is full of opportunities for learning, growing, living, and being.  These opportunities may come in the form of time with a loved one, tasks to do at home or work, volunteering time to help others in need, or even quiet time spent reflecting upon one’s life and surroundings.

Though we may not realize it, each day requires some form of work on our part to move forward.  While there are different forms and definitions of work, it is important to recognize the value in one’s work.  The priest at my church often offers a blessing on Labor Day for all workers, as well as those who are unemployed or not compensated for the work they do.  He also is careful to mention respect for others and the need to pray for all kinds of workers and their safety.

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Reflection in the Dawn Lisa A. Wisniewski

Given the current events in the world, such as Hurricane Harvey, bombings in other countries, wildfires, and other natural disasters, we are seeing many people volunteering to help.  The work of these people is often not monetarily compensated.  However, its value is priceless and its experience provides a deeper, more intimate look at human nature, natural responses to tragedy and need, and the resilience of the human spirit.

“No labor, however humble, is dishonoring.” – The Talmud

May the work we do provide opportunities for building relationships, fulfilling needs, and learning new things.  May the seasons of life sustain us through the challenges of our work, and may we learn to value different types of labor and the work of summer as we travel the roads upon the journey.

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By the Light of the Moon Lisa A. Wisniewski

Work of Summer

By the light of the moon on a warm summer night,
The tomatoes ripen to become red on the vine;
By the wind that blows through the trees,
The spirit within goes along upon its journey;
By the water of the rain falling down,
The sky offers  ways for the lost to be found;
By the rise of the sun above the fog
A new day in time shows the love of God;
By the work of summer, all become one
To support the wonder of heaven above.

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Living, Growing, Trying, Being Lisa A. Wisniewski

By living, growing, trying, being,
The river flowing finds meaning;
By asking, doing, listening, and changing,
The past leads to a glistening rearranging;
By wishing, seeking, hoping, and giving,
The soul meets fishers and sowers allowing for living;
By the work of summer, the light is seen
Leading toward the heights of peace.

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Late Summer Raspberries in the Garden Lisa A. Wisniewski

By the plants in the garden and storms in the sky,
The grains of sand slip through the hourglass of time;
By the steps taken upon the journey,
The soul forgives, forgets, and finds ways of learning;
By the time spent in the early morning light,
The seed finds its roots to spread glory to the vine;
By the work of summer, blessings are found
Taking one toward the magic of the stars to be seen in the next trip around.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Last Clouds of August Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Buckeyes in the Sun Lisa A. Wisniewski

Observing Life Under Heaven’s Skies

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Misty Sunrise Lisa A. Wisniewski

The morning skies continued their magic show this week, full of bright orange, misty pink, and crimson light.  Clouds moving through the area added white patches of texture ranging from cotton ball and cauliflower shapes to wispy veils.   The cloud cover did mar the view of the eclipse to some extent, but from what little I was able to see, it was still a memorable moment.  Night skies have been cloudier, making it appear darker even earlier than actual sunset, which is now at 8:05 PM, a full fifty minutes earlier than its peak time on June 21.

Moving Moments

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Moments Under Heaven Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I made my way through the normal routine of exercises, chores, work, and playing with the dogs, I found myself contemplating latest events in the lives of those around me.  Four friends have lost four beloved pets in the last month, several people I have known almost all of my life are battling severe health issues, and there is always the undercurrent of social, economic, and political issues affecting family and friends.

Thinking about these issues made me reflect upon my own path in life–where I was, where I am, and where I hope to be someday.  Though my history has been less than positive in a number of key life areas, God has helped me to recognize the good parts and allowed me to build strength from the bad.  He has offered me opportunities to experience faith, hope, and love, all of which build character and offer reasons to keep moving forward despite the obstacles encountered.

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Move Me Lisa A. Wisniewski

Needless to say, the reflections moved me deeply, made me restless, and gave me reason to prioritize some items.  I did more writing than normal, mostly memorial works to send along with sympathy cards, but also a few inner angst pieces that I call cathartic.  The writings and the emotions they evoked confirmed my long-held belief that relationships are what life is all about, no matter the circumstances or outcomes.  It all boils down to the connections we make and the parts these connections play in guiding us upon our journey.

Weeding Through Thoughts and Time

As the events of each day unfolded, I watched the weeds in the garden and in the driveway grow at a fast pace.  Though I really wanted to stop and pull the weeds, other chores and life events wrestled for my attention.  After some analysis, I resolved to try to do a little of every chore required each day, even if only for 15 minutes.  The plan worked well, and I even managed to get all of the garden and most of the driveway weeded, along with all the landscape beds.

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Weeding Under the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

The weeding and time spent running and biking allowed me to weed through my thoughts as well.  Though I didn’t solve the worlds’ problems, cure the ailments of those whom  I care about, or bring any beloved pets back to life, I did offer the best support I could muster through heartfelt (and even tearful at times) prayer, sincere thoughts, and ideas for providing assistance.  In the process, I also was able to prioritize my own to-do list, come up with some solutions to household issues (nothing earth-shattering, just common sense things that can make a huge difference in the long term), and rediscover a part of my character that I honestly did not realize I had lost.

Arsenal of Answers

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Little Answers Lisa A. Wisniewski

While weeding the garden, I realized I was challenged with quickly fading daylight and a rather thick patch of purslane.  At first, I felt a bit daunted using just my little trowel to dig up each clump of leggy purslane.  I ran to the garage to get different tools that I thought might make the task go quicker.  I reasoned that my trusty edging shovel and a garden hoe would offer best results and headed back to the garden with a plan of action.

The edging shovel proved fruitless in the rather hard soil, so my plan to pull up the purslane in strips of sod was quickly abandoned.  Next, I tried the garden hoe, only to find its blade was no match for the rocky ground and baked clay areas.  So much for Plan B.  Looking around, I grabbed my little trowel and quickly got into a rhythm of digging, turning my wrist to pull up the roots of the weeds, pulling the weed tops with my other hand, and tossing the roots into the wheel barrow.  It was a workout not only of the body, but also the mind, heart, and soul.

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Intervals of Integrals Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I methodically eradicated the weeds, I thought about my math lessons years ago and how there is often more than one way to reach a solution to a problem.  Like the different tools in my garage, mathematics has a number of different branches for solving numerical and logical problems.  Sometimes, simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are enough to get the job done.  Other times, we need the inner workings of algebraic or trigonometric formulas and functions to dig deeper and offer more perspective to the solution.  Still other times, we need the tiny integrals and derivatives of calculus or the deep theories of logic and analysis to find the answer.

I reasoned that my edging shovel was like simple math, allowing me to add, subtract, multiply, and divide on the surface.  The garden hoe allowed me to dig a bit deeper like the algebraic and trigonometric formulas.  Though my trowel was small, it proved to be the biggest tool in my arsenal, allowing me to transcend many tiny intervals and do a more thorough job in finding a solution to my weed dilemma.

Solutions in Life

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Wisdom Gained Through Perspective Lisa A. Wisniewski

The weeding exercise brought some possible solutions to other “life weeds” that need to be pulled or transplanted.  Additional time spent reading the Bible and some informational articles offered more insight and possibilities as the week unfolded.  Though it was a process for me internally and physically, the week’s experiences built upon past experiences to offer different perspectives and options for present times.

Life will always have its issues, and if we find we know all the answers right away, then we are most likely just going through the motions and not really living.  If everything is easy, then what are we really learning? If everything is hard, what inner obstacle are we placing between us and the solution?

Perhaps the following quotes offer a more concise set of thoughts to contemplate:

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” – Aldous Huxley

“We may well go to the moon, but that’s not very far.  The greatest distance we have to cover still lies within us.” – Charles De Gaulle

“Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.” – Charles Louis de Montesquieu

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent van Gogh

“To know a little less and to understand a little more:  that, it seems to me, is our greatest need.” – James Ramsey Ullman

May the weeds of life offer opportunities to find different ways for solving problems.  May the tools we use give us perspective, may the experiences we have give us wisdom, and may sharing what we learn with others give us hope under heaven’s skies.

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Under Heaven’s Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Under Heaven’s Skies

Misty dawn in the east
Full of wispy clouds caught up in summer’s breeze
As the bright orange sun appears
Shedding light far and near,
Acting as a compass for the soul,
Distracting the mind so the heart can hold
A few moments of peace
As the dew retreats
In the wonder of the sun’s light
Under heaven’s skies.

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Clouds White and Puffy Lisa A. Wisniewski

Clouds white and puffy unfold
As the mind begins to stroll
Through the plans of the day
As the grains of sand make their way
In the hourglass through the minutes and hours
Allowing time to pass as problems power
Their way with thunder through life
Under heaven’s skies.

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Light of the Sun Lisa A. Wisniewski

But the light of the sun
And the water inside the river that runs
Through time to the sea
Have ways to find the lost soul’s needs,
Resolving the problems and lessening the loads
So that the Lord’s revolving blessings can be exposed
Through wisdom, perspective, faith, and love,
In ways both hidden and obvious,
Freeing the soul left in wonder by the changing times
Under heaven’s skies.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Heaven’s Rays Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Sunrise August 24, 2017 Lisa A. Wisniewski

Observing Faith, Motivation, and Summer in the Fields

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Light in the Dawn Lisa A. Wisniewski

The past week brought with it typical late August weather, full of hazy skies, humidity, pop-up rain showers, and misty mornings.  Watching the sun break through the clouds at dawn casting visible light rays made me feel as if I was watching blessings unfold into the day.  The experience was very moving, touching me deeply, allowing me to forge ahead despite some difficulties encountered during the week.

Motivation Through the Movements

As I watched the light sweep across the skies each morning, I recalled a quote I read recently:

“What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.” – Bertrand Russell

This quote captured my attention because it is by Bertrand Russell, a British logician and philosopher whom I studied in several classes while pursuing a degree in Mathematics.  Russell is most remembered for his contributions regarding logic and applications of this logic to mathematics.  His work regarding contradictions and paradoxes led him to change his approach to thinking and solving problems.  He later turned away from mathematics to concentrate on philosophy and write about social, political, and moral subjects.

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Motivation in the Morn Lisa A. Wisniewski

Russell’s approach to life and his work revolved much around his faith, not only from a spiritual perspective, but also from a physical perspective.  What he saw happening around him sparked questions, deep thought, and at times, perplexing problems that consumed him.  Never one to stop seeking, Russell trudged through the difficulties with admirable vigor.  Though he changed his thought process and beliefs several times as an attempt to deal with internal angst, Russell remained motivated and active until his death in 1970.

Faith’s Journey

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Struggles in the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

While contemplating Russell’s quote and his life, I realized he could be considered a modern model of many Biblical characters, all of whom struggled with faith, their part in God’s plan, and the circumstances they faced.  For example, the book of Exodus tells the story of Moses, his call by God, and the struggles he had trying to get the people to obey God.  The books I and II Kings (also knows as I and II Samuel) tell the story of David, chosen to lead the people, yet destined to struggle with himself and his faith in God.  In the Acts of the Apostles, we learn of Saul’s conversion, his visions, and his name change to Paul.  Later, in Paul’s many letters to the church community, we learn of his struggles with faith, God’s call to him, and the issues presented to him by the people to whom he was writing.

Like Russell, the biblical characters faced paradoxes and struggled with their inner beings to find peace and ways to move forward.  The faith these people had was at times, their motivation and strength.  It was also a burden to explain and a point of contention with others.  In the end, the truth led these biblical characters to their destinations.

Summer’s Paradox

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Summer Paradox Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like the people above, summer also has its paradoxes, struggles, and fits of change.  Summer rises from spring to its apex of light then gives in to time’s ways with the coming of fall.  While we are still well within the throes of summer in my area, little hints in nature are slowly pulling nature toward fall.  The browning teasels in the fields, spent blossoms on a number of wild flowers, ripening fruit and vegetables on the trees and plants, and obvious loss of daylight all point toward fall. However, the bright, blue skies, warmer temperatures, and hazy mornings of dewy grass all say it is still summer.

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Shift Toward the Light Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I see these changes around me, I also struggle with altering schedules so I can still run, bike, walk, get chores done, and do other required tasks.  Fortunately, I have learned to experiment a bit and have become more flexible with my thought process.  The years have taught me that if I can’t do something in the morning hours due to lack of light, then I need to do the activity as soon as I come home from work or sometime before sunset.  If the task is something that requires natural daylight, then I need to prioritize it so it gets done.  However, if the task is one I can do with the outside lights on or inside, then I can move it to a different time slot.  It is all about learning, reacting, and growing.

Faith’s Many Facets

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Changing Ways Lisa A. Wisniewski

I admit it has taken me a number of years of struggle to reach a healthier perspective on summer, the seasons of life, and the inner soul.  Perhaps the following quotes offer the best insight and description of what I have endured in order to stay motivated and keep faith intact:

“I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –Thomas Edison

“Mistakes are part of dues one pays for a full life.” –Sophia Loren

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What does not destroy me makes me stronger.” – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” –Theodore Roosevelt

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Faith and Motivation From the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

All of the above philosophies support faith in different aspects.  Yet each of these philosophies entails a truth that makes one ponder or stop to consider the paths within the journey.  While we all have different physical, mental, and spiritual motivations, the common thread is a faith of some sort based upon a truth which we may or may not understand or agree.

Faith is indeed a motivator, mentor, and mediator.  It is a compass, companion, and confidant that shows us the way through life, time, and all the little details we encounter along the way.

May faith lead us through the paradoxes and seasons of life, allowing us to learn and grow in our own time.  May we find motivation in faith’s ways, even when we struggle to understand, and may summer’s fields offer both enlightenment and encouragement for the soul.

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Summer in the Fields Lisa A. Wisniewski

Summer in the Fields

Summer in the fields, beneath the sun’s light,
All the glory revealed in the ray s that find
Every shadow, nook, and cranny
That envelope the ever many
Wonders of the world in nature’s arms
As the days unfold and time departs
Upon the journey along the shores
Where summer’s song is sung once more.

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Tall Iron Weed, Goldenrod, and Teasels Lisa A. Wisniewski

Summer in the fields, ever so fine
Full of crops that yield strength for the soul inside,
As well as beauty in the petals and the blades
Of tall iron weed, goldenrod, and Queen Ann’s lace,
Jewel weed, teasels, alfalfa, and clover
Dipping and swaying as the breeze skims over
Creating wave upon wave of color and texture
Guiding the soul through each day’s adventures.

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Under Nature’s Grasp Lisa A. Wisniewski

Summer in the fields, under nature’s grasp
Left to methodically reveal the blessings cast
From the heavens to earth below
In both sun and rain, and the moon and stars’ glow,
Creating pockets of peace in the ever-changing world
As the water running to the seas foams and swirls
Around and around and around again
Through both silence’s sound and the refrains under heaven
Singing summer’s song in the morning and the night
As time moves on and the lost soul finds
What it is seeking and even more
Through living and being upon time’s shores.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Bee on Jewel Weed Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Bumble Bee on Seedum Lisa A. Wisniewski

References and Related Links

Bertrand Russell – https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bertrand-Russell

Book of Exodus – http://www.usccb.org/bible/exodus/0

Conversion of Saul – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%209%3A1-19

Story of David – http://biblehub.com/library/marshall/the_wonder_book_of_bible_stories/the_story_of_david_the.htm

Observing the Good Shepherd’s Work

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The Good Shepherd’s Work Lisa A. Wisniewski

The good shepherd was indeed at work in my area this week.  From the colors in the skies to the flowers in the fields, from the wildlife all around to the special sightings of nature’s finest art, God’s work was noticeable.  The full moon on August 7 made for brighter evening and morning skies, even on a few misty, cooler mornings.  Though the temperatures were below normal for August, the cool air brought a refreshing feeling after several weeks of humidity and high temperatures.

Seeing the Good Shepherd’s Work

Some special sightings on my runs, bike rides, and walks around the yard included:

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Fluted Swallowtail on Butterfly Bush Lisa A. Wisniewski

A fluted swallowtail butterfly (Papilio) feeding on a butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii).  Both butterflies and butterfly bushes have seen a population decrease in my area in recent years, so the sighting was a reminder of how precious life is and how nature often moves through cycles of population growth and decay.

A new patch of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) along the road while biking at sunset.  The way the flowers swayed in the light breeze catching the rays of the sun brought a bright spot to the early evening hours.  The sight gave me hope for the future and better days to come after a bit of a rough patch in life.

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Pokeweed Lisa A. Wisniewski

Huge plumes of pokeweed (Phytolacca)  towering above the hillside foliage.  The green leaves offset the purple berries with red stems to create a textured illustration of how contrasts in color can offset each other, similar to how different people in our lives can bring out the best within us when we are with them.

Tufts of Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) standing tall and bright in pink and purple clusters atop green, leafy stems.  The way the leaves and the stalks dipped and swayed in the wind created a rippling sea of delicate floating flowers.  The sight reminded me of how often in life we must ride the currents and waves of time’s turning rivers and seas.

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White Heath Aster, Gayfeather, adn Tall Iron Weed Lisa A. Wisniewski

Tall ironweed (Vernonia altissima), gayfeather (Liatris spicata), and white heath aster (Aster ericoides) clustered along the roadside to create a watercolor portrait of summer’s finest blooms.  The gayfeather caught my eye with its very bright pinkish purple color, which offset the deep purple ironweed and white heath aster that flanked it.  The sight reminded me of how we need the help of others throughout our lives to sustain us upon our journey.

Feeling the Good Shepherd’s Presence

As I watched the skies change each day through the week, I felt a sense of God’s presence closer than normal.  The feeling reminded me of my favorite Psalm:

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I Shall Not Want Lisa A. Wisniewski

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” –Psalm 23: 1-6

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How Great Thou Art Lisa A. Wisniewski

The sights also reminded me of one of my all-time favorite hymns, How Great Thou ArtHow Great Thou Art originated from the poem O Store Gud, written by Swedish pastor Carl Gustaf Boberg.  The poem was published in a Swedish paper.  It was later translated to German and in 1927, published in a Russian version of the German text.  Stuart K. Hine, an English missionary to the Ukraine, found the Russian three verse version, sang it with his wife at evangelistic meeting, and later translated the words to English.  Hine later added the fourth verse.  The hymn made its way to America and in 1954 was copyrighted and published by Dr. Cyrus Nelson.

All of these gentleman were moved by the words and an inner sense of obligation to their good shepherd to make His work known.  What started as a private moment witnessed and captured by Boberg ended up being one of the most well known and frequently sung hymns in history.

Another Good Shepherd

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Sadie, My Good Shepherd Lisa A. Wisniewski

The words to How Great Thou Art filled my mind most of the week.  As I was mowing grass the other night, I realized I was running out of daylight very fast and may not be able to finish before dark.  My mind and heart wrestled with whether or not I should try to finish the last few passes as the grass grew wet with evening dew and the light dissipated.  Historically, this is not a good thing for me to try, for I have had some rather negative and less than pleasant results when attempting such a feat.

However, I looked over toward the house to see my German shepherd, Sadie sitting on top of the hill where she could see me.  Her intent stare told me she was watching, making sure I was safe, and patiently waiting for me to finish.  Seeing her sitting there reminded me I have a physical good shepherd in my life, one I can lean upon no matter what the circumstances may be.  Our eyes met, and I felt reassured that I would be just fine finishing the grass.

As soon as I turned the mower blades off and headed up the hill toward the house, Sadie jumped up, gave me a nod, and headed toward the house where my dog, Leo was waiting for us.  He too had been watching from the porch, but could not see me over the crest of the hill.  Sadie ran up to Leo, gave him a nudge, and ran around in circles as if to say, “She made it!”

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Leo and Sadie, Gifts From the Good Shepherd Lisa A. Wisniewski

Now I must mention that Sadie has been special from the first seconds I met her.   She instantly took to me, sitting at my feet as if to say, “You are my person.  I will protect and guide you no matter what.”

I brought her home thinking I would not be able to keep her, given I already had two dogs and a grandmother to take care of.  However, in the following hours, I realized Sadie needed me as much as I needed her.  She had been in a bad situation and needed rescued from some pretty awful conditions.  Though I did not know it at the time, she had two kinds of worms and had been abused.  Despite the circumstances, Sadie trusted me.  This trust built a strong bond that ranks among the most cherished I have had with my canine companions.

No Words Necessary

Sadie is one of three dogs I have had in my life who does not need words to communicate.  All I have to do is look at her, and she knows what she is to do.  We have an intent stare that means, “come” and raised eyebrow look that means, “what are you doing?” and a smile that means, “I am glad you are here because I need some sunshine in my life right now”.

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Sadie as a Puppy With Nikki Lisa A. Wisniewski

My late dogs Princess and Nikki were much like Sadie.  I dubbed Princess my Angel in Disguise, for she guided me through some rough teenage years, allowing me to find the light in life after a long stretch of darkness.  Nikki was my Rock, the one I leaned upon in early adulthood.   Nikki taught me how to really live life and to take time to stop and enjoy nature.  Sadie is my Good Shepherd, for she knows what I need and watches over me no matter where I am in the yard.  She makes sure I go to bed at a decent hour and tries her best to put a smile on my face first thing each morning.  We have a connection no words can fully describe and no sum can express its value.

Like any relationship, we have our moments when we don’t agree or understand.  We can be stubborn and difficult to deal with, but we also recognize we need each other.  I have come to realize that my relationship with God is much the same.  There are times I can see His point and times when I don’t have a clue as to how the path we are on will lead to our destination.  However, as with my dog, Sadie, I trust God and His instincts.  It is through this trust that I have found faith, hope, and love in life.  It is also through this trust that I have found Sadie and other great canine companions and friends.

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The Good Shepherd Knows Lisa A. Wisniewski

The good shepherd knows us and our needs.  The good shepherd also needs us to be open to different ways and willing to try.  It is in coming to these realizations that we meet life’s greatest moments full of intangible treasures.

May we find the good shepherd at work in our lives, allowing us to see blessings each day.  May the sights we see and experiences we have lead us to better relationships, and may these relationships sustain us upon the journey.

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Love of a Lifetime Lisa A. Wisniewski

The Good Shepherd’s Work

Sun and clouds in the sky
Conveying the love of a lifetime
Through the colors and the breeze
Above the boughs of the trees
And grass in the fields
Allowing us to have and to yield
To the good shepherd’s work each day
As we set forth to create,
Live, try, and be
Through both what we give and receive.

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Full Moon August 2017 Lisa A. Wisniewski

Full moon in the sky
Amid the blue way up high
Glowing in both the night and the dawn
As time moves on
Through the rivers and the seas
To deliver us to where we need to be
With the help of the good shepherd’s work upon the way
Guiding us through the ports and the bays
Of each season to come
Giving meaning as the water runs
In and through and out and back
Giving blessings through what we do and do not have.

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Wildflowers Along the Roadside Lisa A. Wisniewski

Flowers and trees, grasses and fields,
Below the powers that be within life’s concealed
Moments to have and to hold
In the rapids of the soul
Flowing within time and experiences lived
To both keep inside and forget
While watching the good shepherd’s work so fine
Leading us toward the fruit of the vine
And the ultimate peace
At the summit’s peak.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Butterfly Weed Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Joe-pye weed Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

How Great Thou Arthttp://www.allaboutgod.com/how-great-thou-art.htm

Psalm 23 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=KJV

Observing Nature’s Music Under the August Skies

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Morning Music Lisa A. Wisniewski

The past week has been full of challenges and changes under the heavens.  We moved from the last days of July into August, inched past summer’s peak of light and blooming flowers, and shifted from the quarter moon to the almost full sturgeon moon (also known as the full red moon, the green corn moon, and the grain moon).   The changes have been subtle, yet noticeable, leaving the soul feeling bittersweet with memories of summer highs and lows.

Nature’s Song Remembers When

In watching the changes while running, biking, and walking the dogs, Trisha Yearwood’s The Song Remembers When came into my mind.  Just as the lyrics state,

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A Lighted Match Tossed Into My Soul Lisa A. Wisniewski

…It was like a lighted match
Had been tossed into my soul
It was like a dam had broken in my heart…
 
…And it seemed to fit the moment
And the moment seemed to freeze…
 

…And there was a God in heaven
And the world made perfect sense…
 
…But that’s just a lot of water
Underneath a bridge I’ve burned
And there’s no use in backtracking
Around corners I have turned
Still I guess some things we bury
Are just bound to rise again
For even if the whole world has forgotten
The song remembers when..
 
(Lyrics by Hugh Prestwood)
 

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One of Nature’s Songs Lisa A. Wisniewski

The light of the morning, the smell of the mist in the air and sweet freshly cut grass, the clouds moving throughout the day within the blue and gray skies, the colors in the sunsets, and the rising moon all reminded me of special moments throughout my life.  All of nature’s offerings are like songs to my mind, body, heart, and soul, each one with an emotional connection, drawing me deeper into the music.

Though nature’s songs have no written lyrics, the colors speak their own language, often stirring a memory or a feeling of days past or a hope for the future.  Every sight has its own rhythm, beat, and harmony, perfectly composed by nature, and sung by a memorable voice.

Remembering Special Voices

Throughout my life, I have been drawn to voices that soothe the soul and convey emotion.  Singers like Patty Loveless, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Christine McVie, Trisha Yearwood, Lorrie Morgan, Roseann Cash, Steve Wariner, Vince Gill, and Rodney Crowell rank among my favorites, along with groups like The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and The Judds.   Something about the way these people sang made me feel connected, and those that played guitar or some other instrument as well as wrote songs made an even deeper connection.

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God’s Voice Lisa A. Wisniewski

There is also the voice of God, whom I am still learning to appreciate and feel.  I can’t always hear the words, but I can usually catch the music He is playing or the melody He is humming to get my attention.  His silent songs strike me most, often captivating my soul to the point of being totally engrossed, as if the music is running through my veins.

Last but not least on my list is a very special voice, one that took a very long time to migrate from a scratchy, whining tone to an eloquent symphony.  This voice belongs to my late dog, Luke, who passed away on August 4, 2016 due to complications from a mass on his lung.

 

Remembering a Special Friend

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Luke, My Little Man With a Special Voice Lisa A. Wisniewski

Luke was different and a handful from the word go.  He did everything a dog really should not do, and then some.  He was a canine Houdini, able to escape any enclosure or restriction placed upon him.  He also ate pretty much everything he encountered, leading to some very stressful times of waiting to see whether or not he got sick.

The night I adopted him, he “sang the blues” the whole way home in the back of my Jeep.  It would not have been a bad experience, save for the fact he “sung” so out of key.  As time progressed his voice changed, from a cross between a fog horn and a sick cow to more of a pitched whine.  He then went through a deeper baritone stage that was more of a hum and more tolerable.

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Luke’s Last Song Lisa A. Wisniewski

The night Luke passed away, he was very quiet, save for a quick, excited frenzy to greet the veterinarian who came to our house to put him to sleep.  Though he was struggling to breathe and very weak, he managed a robust welcome song before settling down.  As I sat  next to him during his last moments, I heard  the song of his heart beating to a slower rhythm, ultimately stopping just after the last rays of the sun had slipped from the skies.  It was as if he was walking me down the path to goodbye, slowly, methodically, like a gentleman.  It was one of those moments a person does not forget.  Ever.

After laying him to rest under the apple tree behind the garage, Sadie and I stood together for a long time in the dark.  At last, we stepped from under the tree.   Looking up, I saw the clouds had moved from the skies to reveal more stars than I had ever seen before.   It was there in the silence under the stars that I heard Luke’s final, silent song of love, a song so powerful and poignant that it moved me to tears of joy, sorrow, heartache, and happiness.  It was by far the greatest song Luke had ever sung, one whose melody remains with me in my heart.

God’s Love Song

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Sunrise After the Rain August 3, 2017 Lisa A. Wisniewski

Needless to say, this week has been one of bittersweet memories.  As I ran this morning, I felt rather sad at one point.  Looking to the east, I saw the rain clouds from the morning had broken to reveal a crimson red sunrise.  Immediately, I sensed God’s love and understanding.  Then I heard the music start, taking my soul from its saddened state into a better place of peace in knowing that both God and Luke will always be with me.  I may not be able to see or hear them all the time, but they are there nonetheless, leading me from past to present and present to future.

As I watched the sun rise higher, I contemplated why the sunrise starts out red, slowly changes to orange, morphs into yellow, and ultimately turns white.  Though I know the color changes have to do with the angle and amount of light traveling through the atmosphere, I also reasoned that the sun starts out red because God wants to remind us both of His love for us and His request to love Him.  He wants this to be the first thing we see each day, the first song we hear to set the tone and the tempo for the coming hours.

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Orange in God’s Love Song Lisa A. Wisniewski

I reasoned further that the change to orange is God’s way of giving us hope for each step upon the journey.  Orange is a bright, warm color, often conveying energy and a sense of encouragement.  The morphing into yellow is God’s reminder to have faith.  As it is written in the Bible,

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’, and it will obey you.” –Luke 17:6

Yellow is related to acquired knowledge, inspiring new thought and inquisitiveness.  If we think about faith, it is the driving force behind finding answers to our questions as well as moving us forward even when we do not know the answers.  It draws us in, pulls us in a more positive direction, and keeps us focused on our destination.  The color yellow is much the same when you break it down to basic parts.

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God’s Love Song–Innocent, Pure, Complete Lisa A. Wisniewski

White connotes purity, innocence, wholeness, and completion.  The white in the sunrise is God reminding us He is with us, for us, beside us, behind us, and before us at all times.  He is there through pain and loss as well as joy and happiness in finding what we are seeking.

So, to sum it up, the sunrise is God’s love song, reminding us of where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.  It is a unique blend of music written for us each day to listen to, to keep in our minds throughout the day, and to hold in our hearts, minds, and souls no matter what circumstances we meet along the way.

May the music we hear in nature inspire, guide, and encourage us as we journey through life.  May the voices we hear allow us to feel a connection with our surroundings and those who mean most to us.  May the memories that accompany the songs allow us to remember when throughout life, as well as under the August skies.

 

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Deep Rose in the Sunrise Lisa A. Wisniewski

Under the August Skies

Deep rose sun on the rise
Spreading God’s love in the light
Through the universe and back
Without words or strings attached,
Careful not to break the silence of the morn
As a new day begins once more
In the dew under the August skies
Just like the day you were set free to fly.

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Clouds Playing Lisa A. Wisniewski

Clouds at noon playing in the breeze
Rolling through the tops of the trees,
Pushing onward to their destination
Without ado or hesitation,
Moving, moving out to sea
Renewing, renewing faith in the dream
In the blue under the August skies
Just like the day that you said goodbye.

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Moon and Stars Coming Out to Play Lisa A. Wisniewski

All the stars coming out to play
Deep in the heart of the night’s escape
Twinkling and sparkling like jeweled glass
Within the treasures of life to hold and to have
Etched in the depths of the soul waiting below
For the day it gets the okay to go
In the hues under the August skies
To meet you at the great divide.

In Loving Memory of Luke

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Hope in the Dawn Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Under the August Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Faith as small as a mustard seed – http://biblehub.com/luke/17-6.htm

Full sturgeon moon – https://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/

Meaning of the color orange- http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-orange.html

Meaning of the color yellow – http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-yellow.html

The Song Remembers Whenhttps://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/yearwood-trisha/the-song-remembers-when-9963.html