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Wonder Under a Polar Bear & Anniversary Giveaway!

Oxford’s online dictionary defines wonder as “a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.” He observed the intricacy of the ironwork with the wonder of a child.

Have you considered the wonder of a child? In his book, The Call to Wonder, R. C. Sproul Jr challenges grown-ups to cultivate childlike qualities of wonder, trust, joy, and desire to please, particularly as they relate to loving God. I found the book at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, noticing the cover photo of a butterfly resting in a child’s hand. Now, as I sit outside with the book beside me, I am delighted to see a butterfly land in front of me, opening its wings a few times before gliding off the deck. Wonder.

Children, so inexperienced at life, often squeal with amazement at simple, beautiful things. They’re easily surprised and quickly caught up in new sights and sounds. Sadly, as adults wander though life, they’re not so easily impressed. We find ourselves “bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something” – Oxford’s definition of jaded. We’re busy, tired, or distracted, not noticing amazing things that are in front of our eyes or under our feet. Not so with my grown-up friend, Gail. She told me of the funny looks she got when she bent down to watch an unending line of ants, each with a triangular piece of leaf, hurrying along on their mission. Tiny wonders doing what they were created to do.

Wonderful things come in all sizes. Another friend expressed amazement at the Grand Canyon, exclaiming “His creation shouts His praises; thank you for eyes to see you!”

Wonder has presented itself in small packages in my life – seeing kittens play when I was a child, nursing my newborn as a new mom, finding a fawn in my landscaping this summer.  And I have been awestruck by the magnitude of creation – marveling at the night sky as a teen, standing on a high point at a summer festival in West Virginia, and UNDER A POLAR BEAR!

The amazing walk-through polar bear exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The woman with the camera is not me, but I looked just like that moments later.

So thankful this guy decided to play in the water while I was in the tunnel!

Overcome with AWE as I looked up at the bear, I couldn’t keep from crying.

Too often, I work to stay in control, not cry, act like an adult – and suppress my wonder. Once in a while, it blessedly breaks through. Many of those times involve light or music. On the first day of creation, God said, “Let there by light,” and he has been using it to communicate his awesome love to me. Two instances come to mind.

I was spending an autumn day at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Perhaps my jadedness was showing as I looked out the window at the  slopes divided by groups of trees in fall color.  I wanted to feel delight, but didn’t, so I did something bold. I asked God to open my eyes to the wonder of his creation. Then I watched and waited. The sky was overcast when the performance began. A break in the swiftly moving clouds allowed sunshine to spotlight the tree lines one – at -a- time, beginning to my right and moving across the mountain! I squealed and clapped. Then, (since I was alone in the room) I said with little girl enthusiasm, “Do it again!” AND HE DID – Wonder!

A photo from a different day when the sunshine was widespread on the mountain.

It is not necessary for me to travel to a resort or even leave my house for God to shine into my day. As I spend time in prayer in my own living room, I have seen sunlight suddenly stream in the window to illuminate the photo of a loved one or to signal His peace replacing my anxiety. Wonder!

I’ll wait for a later post to describe the wonder of music in my life  and move on to the giveaway.

As the 1st Anniversary of Thoughts Collected by Lisa arrives, I invite you to tell me what moves you to amazed wonder. Anyone who does that here in the comments section of my blog site or on Facebook will be entered for a drawing on Friday, August 5. Since I reference so many books from Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, I am giving away an Ollie’s gift card to one of my readers.

It takes a shift in FOCUS for adults to experience the wonder of a child. In her book The Magnolia Story (my sister’s copy – not from Ollie’s), Joanna Gaines tells of her obsession with keeping her house clean and the frustration of looking at the messes created by her children. One day as she was about to”lose it” in anger over black fingerprints on a white sofa slipcover, she heard her kids laughing in another room. At that moment, she made a decision to focus on their JOY rather than the dirt. With a new mind-set, Joanna replaced the exhaustion of perfectionism with the wonder of relationship with her children. More about Chip and Joanna’s story in a later post.

Stop and consider God’s wonder. – Job 37:14

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!” – Psalm 66:2

 

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Thank You, Oglebayfest!

As Summer suddenly surrendered to Fall, a Wheeling, West Virginia, outdoor festival complete with creativity, food and breathtaking views helped me say good-bye to my favorite season.  Early October can bring drastically varying weather to this part of the country.  In past years, Oglebayfest has been drenched with rain, scorched by the sun, or chilled to the bones.  But the 2016 weekend was blessed by partly sunny skies and comfortable coolness, issuing in jeans and sweaters season.

This brought a crowd  to the ski resort known for its Christmas lights displays.  When we arrived, my husband was unable to find a parking space near the Artists’ Market, so I was dropped off there to begin my tour.  Almost instantly, the feast for my senses began.  Oglebay’s summer is highlighted by beautiful gardens, and on this October Saturday, the blossoms seemed oblivious to the approaching frosts.

Winding down the flower-lined path toward the craft booths, I filled my lungs with cool, clean air and began to catch the scents of popping kettle corn and frying potatoes and peppers.  Having lived much of my life in flat, farming country, I delighted in being on top of a West Virginia mountain overlooking the beautiful park.  There is a sense of almost dizzying AWE when one is standing above the land and closer to the sky.

Still, I wasted no time in getting to the first artist’s booth, a jewelry display that I recognized from past visits.  While my husband was slowly making his way down the hill and eventually back up searching for a parking space, I enjoyed visiting potters, woodworkers, and painters, making mental notes of particularly creative items for which I might return.  One tent contained delightful hand-painted gourd decorations hung on a Christmas tree – did I just say Christmas?  A young woman was in the process of choosing an ornament for her mother, and my brief interaction with her increased my joyfulness.  It is a wonderful feeling to find that “perfect” gift for a loved one.  By the end of the festival, I had purchased a Christmas gift for each of my sisters and two old-fashioned clothespin dolls to tuck into Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.

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I was about half way though the Artists’ Market when Dave was finally able to join me.  I kidded him about being lucky to not have had to endure all of my shopping, but, I truly appreciate his willingness to take me to festivals and help me make decisions about purchases.  Together, we bought a handmade house number sign for our home.

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Walking along, we met several friends to talk to and could hear talented musicians performing well-known songs.  Another sense was satisfied, with only taste left to be indulged.  Festival goers were welcome to sample a variety of wares, including wine, dips, fudge, and roasted peanuts.  My chosen comfort food was rice pudding, and Dave went for those fried potatoes.  And, off course, we took home a bag of kettle corn for later.

At the end of the day, I rested in a deep sense of contentment.  Why is that?  An interesting piece in Sunday’s newspaper quoted the author, saying “Feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness.”  The article focused on rock climbing as a potential healing process for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with one young man saying “I literally climbed out of depression.”  When I couple the awe of nature’s beauty – mountains, gardens, sky – with the amazing creativity of artists, I experience an uplifting sense of joy and feel motivated to create.

Science is revealing the benefits of getting outside, walking in the forest, looking at the stars, and experiencing AWE.  A few days after Oglebayfest, we’ve had frost and are seeing tinges of color in the leaves.  It will be a another beautiful time of the year.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Psalm 19:1

 

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