Friday, 25 January 2013

beauty...sent special delivery

 it's how His gifts always come.

Got my feet wet for this shot....but the sun was going down so fast, there was no time for proper boots.  

I took this shot only a few minutes before.  I had to pull the car over several times on the way home from music lessons the other evening.  Dinner could wait.  My kids don't even ask any more.  They feel the car slowing down and say: "you're going to take a picture?"  

They are lucky I only took pictures that evening.  The beauty was so compelling. Wide open fields like this -- aglow with such radiance -- always make me want to twirl and sing and shout praise at the top of my lungs (just what every teenage son wants to witness while waiting in the car!!) 

On the topic of beauty, John Eldredge writes this:  

"Is this not God's pre-scription for us?  Just take a look around.  The sights and sounds, the aromas and sensations--the world is overflowing with beauty.  God seems to be rather enamored with it.  Gloriously wasteful.  Apparently, he feels that there ought to be plenty of it in our lives....Our experience of beauty transcends our ability to speak about it, for its magic lies beyond the power of words.....We need not fear indulging here.  The experience of beauty is unique to all the other pleasures in this:  there is no possessive quality to it.  Just because you love the landscape doesn't mean you have to acquire the real estate.  Simply to behold the flower is enough; there is nothing in me that wants to consume it.  Beauty is this closest things we have to fullness without possessing on this side of eternity.  It heralds the Great Restoration.  Perhaps that is why it is so healing--beauty is pure gift.  It helps us in our letting go." (The Journey of Desire p.192)

May your eyes and heart be open to see the beauty around you today -- sent special delivery!

text and photos © melody armstrong 2013 (unless otherwise cited).

Thursday, 24 January 2013

bloom possibility

"dance   beneath   blue   sky   or   rain;
bloom   possibility "

This is a picture of my grandparents in 1952, taken in front of the modest prairie home my mom grew up in.  

today i got to create
i cleared some space for it
the "to-do" list waited patiently
while i tilted my head this way and that
played with layers 
fiddled with words and
angles and old photos
not much to show for an afternoon 
except it sparked me awake 
and nourished my soul
i love art.

I finally finished my journal cover today - pretty journals are one of life's small delights for me. It all started with a white tag that I saved from off a new pair of jeans.  I always save junk like that.  I wanted to cover it with a piece of my history and symbols of new beginnings.  I also snuck in the word "begin" which I have chosen as a focal point for my imagination in 2013.    

 Here's the finished cover.  It wasn't till it was all glued that i realized the background was upside-down.  Whoops!!  Maybe I really am profound --subconsciously.  My world certainly feels upside-down half the time.  Anyhow......just thought I'd share.  

May your day bloom with possibility!

photos and text © melody armstrong 2013

Thursday, 17 January 2013

a place for gratitude

You know those beautiful little books that you just can't resist, but have no idea what to do with? Mine have become places for gratitude.

 I have them around the house and at the ready.....I can always spare a moment to record the things I am grateful for.  It is a practice that I have come to cherish.  IT IMPROVES MY helps me see the countless gifts of grace in my life.  It's better than carrots!!
The one below is sitting on my bathroom counter next to the soap.  I remember to wash my hands.  I can remember to be grateful.  The "thank yous" go deeper and deeper, and so does my contentment.  As I practice thanking God, even for the really difficult things in my life, I continue to see His loving hands more clearly.  These small pieces of paper represent a part of my praying life ---- my whispers of love and gratefulness to the Keeper of my Heart. 

Text and photos © melody armstrong 2013

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Will I ever learn to love it?  Or, at least be content with it most of the time?  Funny....when I see my daily life through photos, it looks rather beautiful -- even the things that usually bother me like piles of dishes not put away...

or those few shrivelled Christmas oranges that didn't get eaten and are hiding beneath the bananas (i'm Scotch, I hate waste.)

 or boots, shoes, hats, and snowpants decorating the kitchen...
or stacks of puzzle boxes yet to be packed away for another year...

 or completed puzzles stacked (on the piano??)...
or dining room tables that are only elegant as our every day life...

 or more completed puzzles (my husband loves the 3D ones - it's what we do during Christmas holidays) still keeping baby Jesus company half way through January... 

 or piles of paper that show my sketchy attempt at keeping track of the thousands of photographs I am always in the process of backing up and organizing (still using paper in this mess???  that should be an indicator right there.)

Does anyone else have a corner like this one???

I think you know what I'm getting at. Author Katrina Kennison, who practically saved my life while I was mom of 3 little ones aged 3 and under with her book Mitten Strings for God,  wrote another book a few years back entitled The Gift of an Ordinary Day.  This writer is one of my favourites.  I have re-read her books for reminders of her wisdom and for the beautiful images she presses into my soul. (I may actually have Mitten Strings memorized - I've read it for the last 11 years.)   Her words have reminded me to observe the beauty and gleam in every ordinary day.   This week, her most recently published memoir was released called Magical Journey: An apprenticeship in Contentment.  I can't wait to read it and I hope you will too.  More more information or to peek at her blog, please click on the following link:

By the way, you might want to try taking some snapshots of your "ordinary day" too.  Maybe you'll be surprised at the beauty you see.

thoughts for 2013

 ...from the cover of one of my favourite journals
 may my response to God to be a 
resounding "YES" this year

YES,  I can TRUST.  Yes, I will follow.  Yes, I will listen.

text and images by Melody Armstrong © 2013

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

a quick favour......

Hi everyone....please do me a favor and peek back on my first post of the year called "after the pause".  For some reason it didn't publish so I have provided the link here: "after the pause....."


Monday, 14 January 2013

building character....

It's messy work this process of becoming me.  The stirring and churning and sloshing of things I thought I'd figured out, tips me right off balance sometimes...and I pour out.  
Is this what it takes to make a firm foundation?  It hurts making  something solid and lasting from the ingredients of my life.  It's labor intensive --this vigorous mixing of my emotions, my relationships, my questions, my certainties, my faith, till it becomes the right consistency for making rock.  

My soul reels and I'm off centre and everyone around me feels it too.

photos and text by melody armstrong © 2013

After the pause...

In the last couple days I've had two people tell me that they've been missing my blog (which I liked a lot!!!)  I realize that there has been a long, awkward pause these past 4 weeks.  The reason is simple.  I often just don't have words to express the really huge heart stuff.  So I spent time in my journal instead, where my thoughts flow, unedited, like ink flows through pen...sometimes blotchy, sometimes thin, sometimes in orderly cursive, usually in jots and scratches.

Through most of December, I struggled to communicate the deep longing I have to connect with the central character in the true Christmas Story.  Yes....Jesus (not the scrooge or santa).  I want to know Him deeply.  I want to understand how deeply known I am by Him.  (And in saying so, I don't want to scare away those of you who do not relate, at all, to this longing.) This Christmas I wanted the age-old story of Jesus coming to earth - God becoming man- to impact me the way it should....the way a personal, shocking, messy, scandalous, humbling, unfathomable, love-filled story should.

Nicole Nordeman, in her song Tremble, describes my thoughts more eloquently than I could ever begin.  If you are looking for something to contemplate, I urge you to take a moment and soak in the words and melody of this song from Nichole's heart.  Below are some of the lyrics that are especially meaningful to me:

"Have I come too casually? 
Because it seems to me
There's something I've neglected
How does one approach a Deity
with informality
And still protect the Sacred?

'Cause you came and chose to wear the skin of all of us
And it's easy to forget You left a throne

And the line gets blurry all the time
Between daily and Divine
And it's hard to know the difference

Oh, let me not forget to tremble...
Face down on the ground do I dare
To take the liberty to stare at You?
...Oh, let me not forget to tremble

The cradle and the grave could not contain Your Divinity
Neither can I oversimplify this love..."
     -the song Tremble by Nichole Nordeman

And so this December I waited.  I listened.  I prayed as honestly as I my often distracted way.  And as I wrote in my journal:
"I let my soul travel the distance to stillness
to settle into the waiting on bended knee
offering Him the gift of me."

Now, with January 2013, comes the living.  The doing.  The being.  Feet hit the cool, hard floor running and most of us spend our days trying to catch up.  Already?!  What am I trying to catch?  What is this "real living" that is so far out in front of me that I must catch it?

Hmmm....what about right now?  This moment?  This day in all its ordinary, gleaming possibility?  It seems to me that it's all about my vision, my way of seeing.  How will I view the events of my day?  What about the fire alarm waking our family at 6:00 AM and the real fire gaining momentum on my glass kitchen table...the fire that, anywhere else, would have had our home in flames by the time we reached it? (....more on this later!)  What about the news that more than one of my dear friend's marriages are ablaze with the heartache of uncovered deception?

December represented my waiting for God to come to humanity.  January is the reminder that HE CAME.    He came to save us.  Really.  And He does.  Do I have the eyes to see His saving hand everywhere I look?  I keep asking for God to heal my vision.  If only I could see and remember that He came to bring us life -real, true, abundant LIFE.  And He is faithful.   EVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIRES, HE SAVES.

photos and text by melody armstrong © 2013.