Thursday, 30 May 2013

spring rain today

I stood under a blanket of blossoms
in the rain.....breathing apple blossom purfume 
and giggling that a girl with a matching pink umbrella 
walked into my photo at the perfect time.

had to bring a little spring with me!

text and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2013

Monday, 27 May 2013

glueing gratefulness

 I stop and glue more gratefulness into my journal. 
More gratitude
means more joy--
means more living in the moment
and stretching the moment into meaning.

Will there ever be enough glue or journal pages
to express my gratitude?

words and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2013

Friday, 17 May 2013

to unfurl

New life unfurls......quietly and secretly but always courageously. 

Year after year I am amazed that something so small and delicate as a crocus can push through even the hardest ground with a perfect mix of tenacity and quiet, breathless grace.  

I love crocuses especially, because they are one of the first secret signs of new life emerging after seemingly endless winters.  When everything is still brown and lifeless, these tender buds of purple break the spell of winter and replace despair with hope.

I think about the new growth surfacing in me.  Sometimes it seems so small, so hidden away in secret and barely noticeable that it might not even count.  But it does.  IT COUNTS!!  Every tender, green shoot that peeks through the sometimes cold, hard ground of life is a miracle I am meant to celebrate.  And so are you.

You may feel a little stuck right now in that in-between phase between winter and spring where there is so much potential, but nothing seems to be happening.  It's brown and dusty and new life still waits to unfurl.  Please don't discount the crocuses......the tiny buds in your life that are easily overlooked and sometimes even stepped on.  Don't miss the real wonder of it all --that new life is springing up all around in you.  Nothing can keep it back.  There is so much green just about to unfurl.  

Don't give up hope and be sure not to step on the crocuses.

word and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2013

Thursday, 16 May 2013

let it rain

(pardon the's just so fun to play)

I took the above image last year at this time while following my amazing friend around for a day and photographing her life as a rancher and cowboy-girl (or "superwomen" as I like to call her).  I had just finished participating in my first "mini-cattle drive"  (she said I did pretty good, by the way!) and was still riding horseback.  Good thing he knew his own way home cuz I was too busy taking photos to "drive."    Urban cowboy, anyone???

I could have taken similar photos today (minus the jeep, cattle and horses!)  The landscape around here looks just the same.  Rain clouds are hovering on the horizon and the fields are thirsty, waiting to soak up some much needed moisture.

I am these fields today, thirsty and waiting for soul rains to fall; to soak; to drench me through and through.  My soul is preparing for new seeds to be planted and I believe that bountiful crops can still grow in my life.

Are you thirsty today?  Is your soul in need of rain, the life-giving, soul-cleansing kind?

If you are like me, the answer is a resounding yes.  And so I pray for all of you out there, that you will lift your face to the sky and say "yes".  Soak in all in.  Let it fall over you till it seeps into every dry crack and crevice of your life.  LET IT RAIN.

My prayer for you is that:
"You shall be like a well-watered garden; a spring whose waters never fail."
Isaiah 58:11 (NIV Bible)

words and images copyright © melody armstrong 2013 (unless otherwise cited)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Mended Tea Towel...for my mom!

It was just an old tea towel.  It caught me off guard, but it shouldn’t have.  I’ve seen it so many times before, with other things.  There in my mother’s kitchen, folded and hanging neatly on the stove was a blue and white tea towel that had been carefully mended.  Even then, with her failing eyesight, my mother still managed to mend things beautifully and often invisibly.  

The very fact that this tea towel still existed at all is what moved my heart that morning.  Why didn’t she just throw it away?  Well, I guess because it was perfectly good except for the hole.  My mom has always had the gift of seeing value and worth in something.  She could take an item that others had  no choice but to discard, and give it a second life.  Her careful pinning and meticulous attention to detail produced  patches and mends that were rarely noticeable. She didn't seem to mind putting in the time it required either.  And it did take time.  To her, this process of caring and restoring was a simple, natural and everyday thing.  I see it as extraordinary.

It isn’t just things that my mother mended, like tea towels or a favorite shirt that my husband couldn't part with. She mended people too.  She still does.  I think about all the mended people that have sat in my mother’s kitchen through the years.  I’m one of them.  So many of us were broken, worn out, stained and feeling worthless.  But she saw all of us differently.  In her eyes, we had great value.  We were worth saving and restoring.  In fact, we were perfectly good except for the holes.  She knew what we could become with some loving, careful attention and a lot of time.  It was just a simple, everyday thing.

There were people in my mom’s mending basket who I thought were almost impossible to deal with.  I remember as a kid wondering when she would ever give up on them.  I think of the time and energy she poured into so many lives….and the heartache.  Broken people can be hard to mend.  But she wasn’t afraid to tackle anything that she deemed worthwhile.  I love that about my mom. I see now that I really should have paid more attention to this everyday part of my mother’s life.  I can sew on a button and I’ve even tried mending a few items, but I clearly lack my mother’s skills.  She really is a master.  I can only hope that I have somehow learned to apply this skill to people the way my mother does.
She has shown me so much about God’s great love for people; the way He cherishes those who are broken, worn out, stained and discarded.  He sees them the way they could be with some careful attention and His loving hands upon them.  He knows they are valuable and He paid the highest price for them by allowing His own son Jesus to be nailed to a cross --surrendering his life for all humanity.  This single act of love alone brings wholeness and restoration that reminds me of my mom’s invisible patches.  To God, we are perfectly good except for the holes.  We just need to be mended.     -April 2009 for MY amazing mom.


words and images © copyright melody armstrong 2013

lost keys and sheep

It was around this time last year that my passion for photography got me in trouble again.  This time, it was some old barns and a prairie landscape that grabbed my attention.  I pulled off the road and jumped out of my van for a couple quick shots with my trusty point-and-shoot in hand and my keys tucked in my pocket.  Just beyond the three barns, a moody sky sat on the horizon promising rain from it's dark billowy clouds.  A perfect backdrop for my photos.  
Giddy and intoxicated with a silliness that comes over me when I'm free to chase beauty,I stood at the edge of the road and took my first shot.  Then I skipped through the ditch to the barbed-wire fence for another one.  Then back to the road. Then back across the ditch towards the field again.  I was ALL OVER THE PLACE just snapping away and loving it.

I decided to crawl through the barbed-wire fence (getting only a little snagged) so I could walk into the field and get closer to the barns.  I was about thirty yards in and grinning from ear to ear when I suddenly realized with an unnameable dread that my keys were no longer in my pocket.  “You’ve GOT to be kidding!” I said right out loud to no one.  I started patting myself down like I was under arrest, frantic to find keys somewhere on my body.  But, no keys!  Unbelieveable!!   In the one clear moment of thought that followed, I dropped my jacket to mark my spot, took a deep breath and walked back to the van hoping I'd find them there.  And sure enough, NO KEYS!  I knew with certainty that my keys were laying somewhere in that field of mud and last year’s stubble.

Out of sheer desperation, I  called a good friend who lived nearby hoping she might be home and able to come help me search.  She assured me that she was on her way.  And so began the impossible search and my out loud conversation with God.  “Lord, I know you can see my keys.  You’re looking at them right now, so please, please, PLEASE!  take my feet to them.”  There was no other way I was going to find them.  The soil was as black as my keychain and the field stubble was thick and tall, standing as high as my knees --- especially along the fence and in the wide ditch I’d crossed several times.  Needle in a haystack, anyone???

After about half an hour of searching, a truck pulled out of the nearby farmhouse  and stopped next to where I was pacing  the field. Great!  Now I  was in trouble for tromping through his field.  But to my great relief, the man and his daughter had  stopped to inquire whether I needed help.  I couldn’t believe it when after explaining my predicament (through tears), they got out and started searching through the ditch with me saying: “we’ll find them, don’t worry.”  Such kindness and optimism from complete strangers was overwhelming.  

Meanwhile, my girlfriend had shown up and joined the search.  Shortly after that, I took a step and my eyes fell upon the keys right beside my foot.  I snapped them up and started the loudest, craziest celebration dance right there in the ditch in front of my girlfriend and two complete strangers.  Such exuberant joy filled my whole being.  I hugged my girlfriend and twirled wildly in delight.  I hugged the strangers, laughing and screaming.   It was crazy and exciting and I didn’t care who saw me.
my girlfriend in the muddy field after all the drama!!

I have no idea how God whispered to my heart in that deliriously loud and joyful moment, but he did: “Now you know how I feel when, after leaving the ninety-nine, I find that one lost sheep.”  I got it, just a taste of how excited God gets.  All heaven rejoices; isn’t that what the Scripture says?  Imagine that!  A loud, rapturous, dancing celebration happens in heaven when one that was lost is found.  

words and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2013