Shades of Gray

Dale offers the challenge “shades of gray” for this week’s Cosmic Photo Challenge. Above are gray clouds coming in during sunset. Below is a leaf on a gray sidewalk.

The first blog I read this morning was Dianne Marshall’s The Marshall Report. It contained links to two videos, both of which I enjoyed.

Leaf on Sidewalk

Last Week’s Christmas Walk

Dale asks us to “show us your Christmas” for the Cosmic Photo Challenge. On my walk on Christmas day I spotted these flowers among others.

My smile this week for Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile is much the same as it has been. In particular I was wondering if I would find anything to photograph on December 25th worth posting to meet Dale’s challenge. Sometimes I’m too distracted. There are times I am so preoccupied I forget to take photos. I smiled with relief when I spotted these flowers. I don’t know why I saw them. I must have missed them on previous walks. Perhaps they weren’t blooming then.

White Blossoms

Cream of the Crop

This week for the Cosmic Photo Challenge Dale asks us to feature our favorite photos of the past year under the theme of “cream of the crop”. Above is a fall view of Lake Michigan from the top of the ravine at Lake Bluff, Illinois, and the other shows a cup of goji berry tea next to my prepared notes for a meeting.

What made me smile this past week (for Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile) was a realization of the significance of various personal events over the past year, some very small, which made possible other such events. By contrast many public events of 2020 were awful, but these more private ones I think of now as Red Sea moments (Exodus 14) where I had to go from one side to the other of some situation with a command to do so, or else. When I imagine what my life would have been like today if I had not obeyed these commands I am overwhelmed with joyful gratitude.

I doubt the Israelites felt comfortable crossing the Red Sea given those ominous mountains of water on both sides, but if they had not obeyed, they would have had to face the Egyptians behind them. Imagine their gratitude at the privilege of being guided from one shore to the other.

The realization that made me smile this past week was the sense that I was not alone and I might well have become lost if I didn’t go forward. There are those who might choose to explain such commands or guidance as the workings of my imagination. However, there is a difference between imagining how the Israelites must have felt to experiencing it oneself. Remembrance brings forth gratitude and gratitude put a joyful smile on my face.

Merry Christmas!

I am adding this post to Crystal Grimes Holiday Blogging Party.

Snappers’ Choice

When Alice saw the rabbit hole,
she wondered: “Do I dare to go?”
She went. Praise God. Raise gratitude.
She found her winding way back home.


Linked to Cosmic Photo Challenge where Dale offers the theme of “snappers’ choice”, or photos of my own choosing. These are pictures taken about a week ago near the beach.

Also linked to Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile. I was thinking this past week of Matthew 6:13, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (NIV)

I smiled when I thought the temptation from the evil one might be for me to get my own way (or its way) when instead I should be rejecting it. When I do get my own way, that is, when my own will was done, I wondered if that were also His will for me? And that made me suspicious of the lyrics in the song, I Did It My Way.

Ahh! Going down that rabbit hole made me smile all the more with gratitude as things started to make sense from that context. Now to find my way back home.

Post and Rope

Crystal Grimes is hosting a Holiday Blogging Party to which I am linking this post. May all of you have a blessed Hanukkah and a merry Christmas.

Christmas Is Coming

Linked to Cosmic Photo Challenge where Dale offers the theme of “Christmas is coming”.

When I think of Christmas I think of decorated trees, presents, special food, family, quiet, cold wintry nights – and snow. Here are some photographs of snowy scenes from last year. Annette Rochelle Aben reminded me in one of her recent posts of this Christmas song that may fit these photos:

Michael Bublé, Let It Snow, Rubi Malik’s YouTube Channel.

Christmas is the traditional time to celebrate the birth of Jesus although He was not likely born on this date. Joseph Lenard argued that Jesus was born on the Feast of Trumpets (specifically, September 11, 3 BC, at the beginning of the Jewish civil year, Tishri 1, or Rosh Hashanah). David Pawson argued that Jesus was born later in Tishri during the Feast of Tabernacles. Richard Lanser argued that Jesus was born on March 20, 6 BC, on Nisan 1. There may be arguments for other dates that I’m unaware of.

Pawson, however, pointed out something important in his argument. The supernatural event was not the birth, but the conception of Jesus nine months earlier recorded in Luke 1:26-38. He pointed out that a virgin could theoretically give birth to a baby girl through parthenogenesis, but not to a baby boy. This reaffirms the significance of conception in human life.

Regardless of when Jesus was actually born, winter is a good time for a celebration and Jesus is worth remembering at any time of the year.

I am also linking this to Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile. I began writing the post on Saturday, December 5th, which happened to be my own birthday. That thought led to a realization this past week that has given me many reasons to smile, with gratitude to all of our parents and to the grace of God, that we have all been assigned to this same time together.

And so, my fellow assignees, may all of you, friend and foe alike, have a blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas.

Snow for Christmas

Crystal Grimes is hosting a Holiday Blogging Party. I am linking this post to that party.

Art From Nature

Linked to Cosmic Photo Challenge where Dale offers the theme of “art from nature”. The art here is the hook, trellis poles and grape arbor. Nature framed it.

Also linked to Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile. We moved back to Miami Beach, but could not get our internet re-connected for a couple of days. Everything seemed to go bananas and the excuse was always “covid”. Then the problems vanished after going to the cable provider’s offices personally, covid or no covid. I look at it as divine blessing. I did realize we need to prepare for extended periods without the internet. That realization was the source of my smile this week along with every opportunity to offer gratitude for blessings.

Art From Nature

Low Light

Linked to Cosmic Photo Challenge where Dale offers the theme of “low light”. I lowered the light on these, perhaps too much.

Also linked to Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile. The leaves are gone, but the forest preserve is still a peaceful place to walk conducive to many smiles.

Here is a poem I wrote for Chel Owen’s Christmas Newsletter challenge. The challenge is open until December 11th for any who might want to participate. These poems are supposed to be funny. I am not sure that mine is, but if I did achieve that rare state of humor, that would bring another smile to my face.

Christmas Newsletter

Larry’s Earth is on the Moon.
Greg’s might be on Mars.
Lulu’s livid with the news.
Sue shoots shooting stars.

I’m the final one who’s sane.
At least, I can pretend.
I have no time to rush away,
so Merry Christmas, friend!
“HEAPS & HEAPS OF URGENCY”, Graffiti found at Skokie Lagoons

Splash of Color

Oranges, reds and watery blue -
Wintry grays though seep on through.

Linked to Cosmic Photo Challenge where Dale offers the theme “a splash of color”. Against the gray of coming winter there is still some color in the woods and along the lake.

Also linked to Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile. Most of the leaves are gone and the weather turned cold, but I still enjoyed a trip to Lake Michigan. All worth a smile or two.

Red Berries Blue Water