A Fun Phobia

More than twenty years ago, a beautiful heart-shaped balloon popped while I was blowing it up and left a large welt right beside my eye.  It was a specialty balloon made out of unusually thick rubber, which apparently had a flaw in it.

To this day, I have a slight phobia of balloons.  Over the years, this has grown to include other stretchy rubber things, like exercise bands, when they get too close to my face.  My family relishes teasing me about it.

photo of lady peeking through a red birthday balloon, background is black and white

As a form of therapy this morning, I inflated several balloons — all by myself!  :)  I do a better job, though, if I blow them up while sitting down…with my eyes closed…with both hands in front of my face like a shield…with a few pauses to turn away and take deep, cleaning breaths to slow my heart rate…

three ladies having a balloon fight on a couch, background is black and white

Still, balloons can be a source of simple, childish fun, whether used as colored filters for viewing the world, swords in battle, slow-motion tennis balls, or static-filled hair decorations!  They stimulate the imagination and bring out the kid in all my family members.  An intense balloon battle is a fun way to get a little exercise, too, as long as nothing gets broken (in the house or on a person)!

four long balloons stuck to a woman's hair with static cling

I had four of the long balloons stuck to my head at one time this afternoon — a new record!

May you be blessed today with an acute awareness of the simple pleasures that surround you!

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Do you have a phobia?  Do you know how it started?  I’m all ears — tell me about it!

Moments of Joy: August 2016

In last month’s post, I remembered the past and glimpsed the future with the help of a sweet, cuddly baby.  Today, I’ll fill you in on a new and unusual forestry fashion trend!

tree line across Arkansas field in summer, with one dead tree

While my daughter drives me and my camera through the countryside, I find much of the typical rural Arkansas fare: trees, birds, weeds, flowers, cows, and winding gravel roads.  One thing I do not expect to see as we approach a sharp bend in the road is a tree wearing clothing!

“Whoa, stop!”

Gravel grinds under the tires as my alarmed daughter stomps the break and looks around in bewilderment.  “What is it?”

“Look at that tree,” I answer, pointing out the window past my daughter’s shoulder.  “There are clothes on that tree!  Why would someone dress up a tree?  I need a photo of this!”

Hopping out of the car, I snap several photos of the fashionable shade tree and then cross the road and squat down to try a few macro shots of the field grass and fencing.  A truck appears out of nowhere and slowly approaches the curve.  I check to make sure I’m well off the road before refocusing my attention on a particular strand of barbed-wire.

Suddenly, I realize the truck has pulled off the road near our car, rather than continuing around the curve.  I glance over my shoulder, but can’t see the driver from my position.

Hair prickles on the back of my neck as I hear crunching footsteps on the gravel road behind me.  “Ok, relax,” I think to myself, “It’s not likely the person is going to attack me!”  My car makes a distinctive “click” as my daughter hits the door lock button — there will be no help from her today!

Turning on my heel, I stand up to see the tan, time-worn face of a gray-haired gentleman approaching.  “What are you doing here?” he asks in a firm voice.

With as welcoming of a smile as I can muster, I respond with “We’re out taking pictures with my camera.”

“What?” he calls out loudly.  “I can’t hear you!”

Raising the camera in front of me, I repeat my answer more slowly and with greater volume.

“What?!  I can’t hear you without my hearing aids!” he bellows back while reaching into his jeans pocket.

“Taking pictures!” I shout, waving the camera in the air between us.

He pokes a tiny hearing aid into one ear as he again shouts, “What?!  I can’t hear you without my hearing aids!”

Ok, this scene is getting a bit comical!  This time I hold up the camera and point at it while smiling and nodding until he places the second hearing aid into the other ear.

Both our voices drop down to a normal decibel level as we begin a friendly conversation about photography and fashion-plate forestry.  The tree wearing worker’s safety gear and the fence behind it covered in orange cones and reflective tape are his handiwork.  He explains that his fence has been destroyed by vehicles three times in the past year by what he assumes to be drunk drivers.

I’m surprised that could happen so many times, even on such a sharp curve, since the fence is close to thirty feet off the road.  Before we go our separate ways, he shares a couple of funny stories that do seem to implicate the work of a drunkard.  Oh, the tales his cows could tell!

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Beautiful Thing

This song captured my heart.  It’s just so adorable that I can’t help but smile.

It is written by a young girl named Grace VanderWaal, who performed it on the America’s Got Talent TV show this week.

I hope it brightens your day as much as it does mine.

~~~~~~~

“Beautiful Thing”

by Grace VanderWaal

You think that you know my heart,
And you probably do.
So I’m always with you.
I could stay with you for hours
In an empty room.
Never get bored.
Never have nothing to do.
You’re my other half.
You’re what makes me, me.
What makes me smile
When I fall down and can’t get back, get back, get back up
On my feet.
You’re a beautiful thing.
We’re a beautiful thing together.
Even when the weather is low…
You’re a beautiful thing.
We’re a beautiful thing together.
Even when the weather is low,
We can find the rainbow
Up in the sky.
You’d say, “Don’t you cry. It’s all gonna be alright.”
That’s a beautiful thing.
Make hours into seconds together,
The weight of the world feel like a feather
Cause we’re holding it right in our hands.
You’re my other half.
What makes me, me.
What makes me smile
When I fall down and need to get back up on my feet.
You’re a beautiful thing.
We’re a beautiful thing together.
Even when the weather is low,
We can find the rainbow
Up in the sky.
You’d say “Don’t you cry. It’s all gonna be alright.
No, it’s all gonna be alright.”
That’s a beautiful thing.

Life Lessons from Carrots

After gathering carrots from the garden one rainy August day, I placed them under cool running water in the kitchen sink and began to scrub them clean with my old, stiff veggie brush.  A thought occurred to me in that moment…

Have you ever paid attention to how all the carrots in the grocery store look so long, straight, and perfect?  That’s not the way they all look when they are harvested.

carrots of different sizes and shapes in a stainless steel colander

When I pull them up in my garden, they all look unique:  different sizes, different shapes, different colors.

I’m sure this happens with part of the carrots in commercial farms.  We just never see the unusual ones because, even though they taste exactly the same, the imperfectly-shaped carrots are rejected from grocery shipments and are ground into pet foods or used for other purposes.  Either that, or they are trimmed into matching shapes and sizes to be sold as “baby-cut carrots.”

I realized then that the uniqueness of carrots could be applied to people, as well.

orange carrot split into two roots

Society may use advertising and peer pressure to try to convince us to strive for a certain ideal in our appearance or lifestyle — to fit the mold of what is considered “normal” or “perfect.” Yet, the reality is that we are all unique in our appearance, physically and socially.

Unlike the misshapen carrots, we must never reject people that don’t fit our ideal of physical or social perfection; and we must never try to force them into matching our personal standards.

If we do not all look like Ken and Barbie dolls with the perfect figure and features, perfect skin and hair, perfect height and weight, perfect speech and mannerisms, perfect wealth and status, it doesn’t matter because the reality is that on the inside

long fat orange carrot beside three tiny carrots

we all taste the same.

Oh, wait…maybe I’m mixing my metaphors…but you get the point, right?

pale yellow carrot split into five roots

One of the scribes … asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus answered, The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.

~Mark 12:28-31

Do you see what I mean?  The scripture says “love your neighbor as yourself,” not “make your neighbor into yourself.”

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!  Now get out there and show some love!

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Let brotherly love continue.

~Hebrews 13:1

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

~1 John 3:18

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one who loves is born of God, and knows God.

~1 John 4:7

5 Habits of Happy People

How do your habits compare to those described in this concise, thought-provoking post about happiness?

MakeItUltra™🛡

FullSizeRender-1“Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.” ~Dr. Robert Anthony

1. Spend money on experience, not things
Happy people tend to spend money on experience more than on things. Of course, there are daily necessities that we need in order to function. But, at the end of the day, it is the quality of our moments that bring us the most joy. If we focus on the next “thing,” a new sport jacket, a designer handbag or a nicer car, we are likely to fall prey to the vicious cycle of not being satisfied with what we have.

2. Don’t neglect the basics
People who are happy tend to manage the basics of self-care better than people who are unhappy. From a behavioral perspective, if a person is not tending to the basics (staying active, eating healthy, making time for self-care, etc.), how can they possibly reap the benefits that a person who is…

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Photogenic Duck Duo

Here’s the friendly ducks I mentioned from our recent photography field trip.  I’ll start with the photo of them frantically flying up the bank toward us, hoping for a handout:

two white ducks rushing up a lake bank with their wings flapping

“Food?! FOOD!”

two white ducks in front of a lake

“Hey, do you see the food? I don’t think they even have any! Why are they here, then?”

two white ducks walking away down a sidewalk in front of a lake

“We don’t have to put up with this. We’re outta’ here!

two white ducks peering into a lake

“Oh! Is that food down there?!”

I’ll insert some random scenery here while the ducks waddle down to the water…the lake was very pretty!

small Arkansas lake surrounded by greenery and dragonflies

I liked the dragonfly who appeared in the corner of this photo. It was boiling hot outside, but a multitude of bugs were buzzing around sampling the wildflowers.

Now, back to the duck duo…

two white ducks splashing among the lily pads in the edge of a lake

“Yes! There’s definitely food here! Hurry up!”

two white ducks dipping their bills in the water, surrounded by lily pads

“Who needs handouts? This is great!”

Just as a side-note — ducks make very strange sounds when they talk with their heads under water!  ha ha

These two hungry characters were an adorable addition to our pleasant morning.  The lake was small but lovely, and full of all kinds of flowers and wildlife.  We may have to go back there for a picnic some day, and bring treats for the ducks!
Matthew 6:25-26 written on a photo of ducks eating in a lake

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Sunny Summer Drive in the Country

My daughter drove me around on a fun photo shoot one sunny summer morning this week, and I thought you might enjoy coming along with us…

chip-sealed country road curving into the woods on a sunny summer day

old, white farmhouse in a field with a cedar-post fence in front

Near this farmhouse, we spotted a tree wearing clothes.  Yes, you read that right.  Soon I hope to share the story of this tree and the farmer who stopped to talk to me while I was photographing it.

macro photo of sharp points on a barbed-wire fence

gravel road lined with mailboxes bending over three hills

A few hills were so steep, I wondered if our poor car would make it to the top.

a crooked tree in dappled sunlight in the woods

I climbed up a ditch bank to take this photo (and the one below). When I returned to the car, my daughter informed me that three deer leaped across the gravel road not far past me. Ooo, missed opportunity! I never even knew they were there!

macro photo of small weeds in the woods

dead tree in field, surrounded by dragonflies

This tree is the reason we went on this journey.  We saw it on a previous drive and wanted to come back when the lighting was better.  If you’re seeing spots, it’s not your imagination — the air was thick with dragonflies!

dead tree on hill above green field on a sunny summer day

I couldn’t decide which angle was best on the last two photos.  Which do you prefer, the ground-eye view or shooting from regular height?

It was so pleasant to ride around, documenting our Creator’s beautiful works.  We also stopped at a small lake and met two very photogenic ducks, but I’ll save those photos for another time.  Thanks for reading this post; I hope it brightened your day!

SCRIPTURE -- Ecclesiastes 3:11 written on the photo of a butterfly on a milkweed flower

This photo is from my garden. If you like images with bible verses, please check out the “SCRIPTURE” page which is full of photos you can use and share.