A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

 

A home with a little dust and a lot of laughter will win the heart of God…  every time!  – Unknown

MERRY CHRIST-MAS EVE!!!

Jesus, the Light of the World,

As we celebrate Your birth . . . . may we begin to see the world in the light of the understanding You give us.  As You chose the lowly, the outcasts, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may we worship You in meekness of heart.  May we also remember our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves in this season of giving.  Help us to embrace a comfort Christmas instead of a commercial Christmas.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

We’ve attended the parties and hosted a few…  we’ve designed and decorated and shopped and wrapped and worked like crazy to make memories.  So…  here we are.

Let’s say a little prayer that the Lord will bring to mind anyone we have problems with – that we will somehow be able to forgive them, or ask them to forgive us for transgressions.  Let’s focus on LOVE on this last Sunday of Advent.  There’s nothing more important to our Lord than love – for Him and for each other.

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 
2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 
3And everyone went to their own town to register. 
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 
5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 
7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 
19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  – Luke 2:1-20

I hope and pray you are enjoying a COZY, COMFORTABLE CHRISTMAS.  Comfort is followed by joy, remember?  Live in the moment today and let your mind wander to all the wonderful Christmases past…

Did you know that reminiscing helps you stay warm?  It gives a sensation of well-being that actually warms your heart and body.

Nostalgia can lead to the physical sensation of being snug and cozy.  – T. Wildschut, Ph.D.

I’m interested in a cozy, comfortable Christmas followed by the joy that Jesus brings.  I’d like to share with you some of my favorite Christmas photos.

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Christmas 1971 (2)

 

Christmas 1971 (3)

 

Christmas 1972

 

CHRISTMAS 1983

 

CHRISTMAS EVE 1982

 

CHRISTMAS EVE 1983

 

CHRISTMAS IN THE 1970'sThat last photo…  that’s the one that makes tears well up.  Look at all those Christmas cards from friends and family!  There’s just one stocking – for their one and only child – yeah, that’s me.  That is home and always will be.  Home is where we all want to be on Christmas day.  These photos are heart warming and provide great comfort to me, which is followed by coziness and the joy of the LORD.  There is just one thing that will be better yet…

https://youtu.be/fwBIUC0deLE

What a wonderful day it will be when I get to heaven and we celebrate for eternity! 

I love this beautiful poem by Lucinda Berry Hill:

Before I say good-bye, I want to share this writing from John Minton.  I hope it blesses you as it blessed me!

THE GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL
Gospel means good news. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of what Jesus did in order to save our souls from death and hell. It is a REVEALED Mystery which was kept secret since the world began. If it was revealed before it happened then Satan would have kept The Lord from being crucified. Here is some of this mystery that I see in a nut shell…Jesus came to earth in flesh and blood just like ours. Born under law. He was the public man. He represented the whole human race. God considered all of us to be in Him so that we would personally benefit from everything He did. In the beginning we were all in Adam’s loins in the form of His seed so that when Adam sinned we sinned too. We were partakers through him.
Because of the Virgin birth Jesus was holy and without sin., and without a sin nature. So because He came in our bodily likeness and in the stead of each of our individual persons, and because we were considered by God to be in Him, therefore when He flawlessly obeyed the Law, SO DID WE. We were partakers of every righteous act that He did because we were in Him. Now check this out….When Jesus sanctified Himself we were actually sanctified as a result because we were in Him and part of Him.
I, Paul, have been called and sent by Jesus, the Messiah, according to God’s plan, along with my friend Sosthenes. I send this letter to you in God’s church at Corinth, believers cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life. I include in my greeting all who call out to Jesus, wherever they live. He’s their Master as well as ours!  – 1 Corinthians 1:2
 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”  – 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.  – 1 Peter 1:3-5
Jesus said, “Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. Even Moses exclaimed about resurrection at the burning bush, saying, ‘God: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob!’ God isn’t the God of dead men, but of the living. To him all are alive.”  – Luke 20:34-38
We are children of the resurrection (think about that).  
 Ok, now comes our ascension. We even ascended to Heaven with Him.
 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.  – Ephesians 2:1-6

I, Paul, am under God’s plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful believers in Ephesus. I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.

The God of Glory

3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

20-23 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.  – Ephesians 1

That’s where we sit right now in Christ.  God has gathered us together and hid us in His very presence like a hen gathers her chicks under her wing for protection.  This is a glimpse of the Gospel of our salvation that if a man or woman believes from the heart, will make them righteous by believing it.  We are to be unshakable in the faith.  A faith that rests in the truth of this message that was delivered to us by angels and by God Himself.  It’s a faith and belief in the truth that God has already saved us in this prescribed way. And so we just rest and forever rejoice in this wonderful free salvation that He has ushered in for us with everlasting shouts of joy. The Bible says that God has reconciled us. It says “BE YE RECONCILED TO GOD. Reconcile means to “restore friendly relations between“, so just be the friend of God that He now says that you are. That’s what it means when He says “BE YE RECONCILED” .just be the reconciled friend that He says you now are. PRAISE GOD! I’M RECONCILED!!! I’M GODS FRIEND!!! In a nutshell, in order to be saved, all we need to do is just accept God’s offer of friendship and just be friends with Him.

18-21 The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,

I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.

So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.

22-25 While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”  – 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

HE presents you holy – NOT YOU!

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.  – 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

All that’s left is for us to decide whether or not to be friends with Him.  If we do, He will send His Holy loving Spirit to live in our hearts which proves that we are His and that we are His friends.  And it will guarantee our entrance into His Heavenly Kingdom – Into the glorious celestial city…Because God has taken away everything bad that stood between us and Him, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love!
Thank you so much, brother John!  We wish you and yours a cozy, comfortable Christmas filled with warm memories and the joy of the Lord!  Let’s all have the desire to share the love of the Lord with those we meet.  ❤

AVE MARIA

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When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would be God’s instrument, so that the Word could become Flesh, he said to her the first part of the Ave Maria.  “Ave Maria, gracia plena, Dominus tecum“, “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you“, (Luke 1: 28)

St. Elizabeth was also divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit to greet Mary with: “Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventures tui” (Jesus), “blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Jesus).  Luke 1: 42.

Ave Maria translated into English is Hail Mary.  The original words were part of a poem called The Lady of the Lake, written in 1810 by Sir Walter Scott.  The composer Franz Schubert set a prayer from the poem to music and published it in 1826 as D839 Op 52 no 6.  Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  It wasn’t written to be a part of Christmas…  guess God had a better plan for it.

The song proved to be inspirational, especially Roman Catholics.  A Latin text was substituted to make it suitable for use in church.  It’s been a liturgical staple at Christmas since then.

Here’s a bit of trivia…  On September 12, 1953, tenor Luigi Vena sang Ave Maria at the wedding of U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

Our hands holding roses,
We hold them for you;

Your grace bringing
us the salvation of your Son;
Holy Lady of Heaven,
Blessed Virgin Queen.

Mother of Christ,
Mother most divine;
Hear prayers rising,
rising to you.

Mother of all, Mother dearest;
Caress us with your love,
keep us pure from sin.

Leading us, ever leading
to the arms of Jesus Divine.
O Holy Mother,
Holy Sacred one.

Ave Maria! Hail Mary,
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

Chris G. Vaillancourt

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRIST-MAS

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  – Isaiah 9:6

When I was a kid, this popular Christmas song played on my parent’s Montgomery Ward record player – yes – the record player / television / radio unit that sat in every American living room back in the early 1960’s.  You know the one I mean…  don’t sit there and act like you don’t remember.  😉curtismathes02And, of course the star singer at Christmas time back in the day was PERRY COMO!  My folks had every Como Christmas album that came out, I think.51t6kcvval-_ss500

untitled-21619zyozrzdllargeperry_como-christmasIf I had to choose a favorite Como Christmas song, it would be “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.”  Let’s take a listen:

I know it’s not a terribly meaningful song in a religious sense…  or wait – maybe it is.  Take a look at this poem by Lucinda Berry Hill – it fits the same tune perfectly.  🙂

christmas-is-jesusSo you see, whether you are listening to Third Day, Casting Crowns, Mark Lowry – or Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Andy Williams…  you always remember that Christmas is never Christmas without Christ.  No matter how the world tries to take Him out of the celebration, they can’t – His wonderful name IS CHRIST – and that’s the beginning of Christmas!

Without Him there are no Christmas miracles – just artificial holiday cheer.  I’d rather expect miracles than see a bunch of people who pretend to be cheerful from alcohol or some other resource at hand.  When I see X-mas it just makes me so sad because some folks are literally X-ing away the real reason for the season.  I don’t understand it.  I never will.jesus-candy-cane-prayer

This year when I listen to Como, I’m going to sing Lucinda’s lyrics because I like them much more than the original song’s lyrics!  Let’s celebrate the birth of our Lord this year.  That’s what it’s all about!  Christmas is JESUS!  🙂

O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL

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And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  – Luke 2:15

celebration-in-heavenWhen I read this poem by Lucinda Berry Hill, tears come to my eyes.  I can’t help it – so much of my family is in Heaven now, and although I know we will be reunited one day, for the time being, we are not together.  I’m left here to celebrate without them.  We have the same Lord and we celebrate His birthday – and yes, they are saying Happy Birthday while I say Merry Christmas.

I then thought of the old Christmas carol called “O Come, All Ye Faithful”.  ALL ye faithful…  citizens of earth and citizens of Heaven!  God wants everyone to come together to celebrate the birth of Christ!

John Francis Wade wrote the Latin version, called “Adeste Fideles”.  Wade fled England after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion to teach music in the school for British Roman Catholic exiles in Douai in France.  Published in 1760, it’s been suggested that it might have incidentally served as a coded rallying cry for the Stewart cause.

The English translation was written by Frederick Oakley and William Brooke in 1841.  Samuel Webbe is credited with writing the tune, but unfortunately, it reminds many of us of the road rage anthem, “Why are we waiting?”  I don’t know who first sang those annoying words with that beautiful tune, but I’d like to punch them.  It frustrates me for two reasons:

(1) I don’t want to hear the tune to a Christmas carol at some time besides Christmas.

(2) I don’t want to hear the words WHY ARE WE WAITING sung to a tune that clearly deserves lyrics with more depth.  It’s childish.  Stop it.

It does my heart good though, to think about my family – a part of the faithful – celebrating Christ’s birthday along with me.  God knows how to give me glimmers of hope around Christmas, and I’m thankful for that.

O come, let US (y’all in Heaven and us on earth) adore HIM, CHRIST THE LORD!  🙂

VETERANS DAY

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Hip2save.com have compiled quite a list of freebies and discounts for veterans and active military!  Check them out here:  http://hip2save.com/2016/11/09/veterans-day-2016-freebies-and-deals/

November 11, 1919 was proclaimed the first commemoration of Armistice Day.  After World War II the name was changed to Veterans Day.

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…  – President Wilson

Originally the day was to be observed with parades and public meetings, along with a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

These days we don’t see many parades or public meetings…  and nobody suspends business…  ever.  Today, businesses offer veterans discounts and freebies!

The idea is to show appreciation to a veteran – not just today…  but everyday!   It’s amazing what a simple THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE does for someone who has made a sacrifice for this country.freedom-to-praise-himThose who fought for our freedoms deserve our respect.

The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.  – Jeff Miller

 

Honoring the sacrifices many have made for our country in the name of freedom and democracy is the very foundation of Veterans Day.  – Charles B. Rangel

Whatever your plans for today…  we do want to say THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!  We enjoy our freedom because of the sacrifice you’ve made.  🙂the-meaning-of-honor

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WE LOVE ELVIS

TL 5-25 WE LOVE ELVISThings are popping in Memphis, Tennessee at Graceland!  August 8-16 is ELVIS WEEK!  There will be all sorts of events and special stuff happening.  For a full schedule and more details, click this link:

https://www.graceland.com/elvisweek/

I’ve been to Graceland and it’s such a memorable experience.  I wasn’t there for Elvis week, but I think it’d be great to be there.  The next best thing would be to hop on this link and do the live stream – yeah!  That’s my plan.

I like the idea of having the children’s karaoke – kids 17 and under are invited to sing their favorite Elvis song.  It’s weird to think that anyone doesn’t know who he was, I mean – the generation right after mine was clueless about Elvis (and most things political – but I digress…) Isn’t it a great idea to keep Elvis alive, so to speak – keep his music alive by having the little ones sing it?  That’s brilliant.

Does anyone else appreciate the “human” side of the legend?  I mean, sometimes we build up a legend until they seem almost more than just human.  I found this quote and thought I’d share it – just to remind us that while yes, Elvis is a legend – he actually was, in reality, very human.

When one of Lisa’s baby teeth fell out here, the tooth fairy left her 50 cents. Another tooth fell out when she was with her father in Las Vegas, and that tooth fairy left her $5. When I told Elvis that 50 cents would be more in line, he laughed. He knew I was not criticizing him; how would Elvis Presley know the going rate for a tooth?  – Priscilla Presley

As you know, my favorite Elvis impersonator is John Coyote.  He’s done some of my favorite Elvis songs and some funny skits.  I hope you enjoy these.

That made me hungry for shrimp…  LOL.

That made me thirsty for…  water – a glass of WATER.  LOL – you thought you caught me, didn’t ‘cha?

Enjoy ELVIS WEEK…  uh huh huh…  uh huh huh!  🙂

 

 

 

 

DANDELION DAYS

TL 5-6 DANDELION DAYS

Here’s a link for you to look at if you’d like to know more about this event.

http://www.dandelionday.org/

My favorite color is yellow – I suppose because it makes me feel happy.  In our neck of the woods, the puffy little yellow flowers are called weeds, but this event celebrates and protects dandelions!  I hope you’ll take a look at the link because it looks like they are gearing up for some serious fun.

I just finished designing a cute poem by Lucinda.  It’s about…  you guessed it – DANDELIONS!  I have to share it today.PUFFY GOLDEN FLOWERSHow much do you know about dandelions?  Well, beginning with the bad news, 30% of America’s water supply is spent watering lawns in an effort to keep non-native grasses green and weed free.  Pesticides are applied to kill off dandelions and other weeds as well.  Dandelions are common weeds that can harm your lawn’s growth by establishing deep roots in the soil.

Now it’s time to hear the good qualities:  The dandelion flower opens when the sun comes up and closes when the sun goes down.  Some folks eat dandelion salads!  They are also used for medicine and even dye for clothing.  Before the 1800’s people actually pulled the grass from their lawns to make room for dandelions and other useful weeds like chickwee, chamomile and malva.  Most people cannot name the weeds in their yard, but almost everyone knows a dandelion by sight.  Why are these puffy golden flowers called dandelions?  It’s taken from the French word “dent de lion” which means lions tooth, referring to the coarsely-toothed leaves.horse-108441_1920

Dandelions are God’s happy yellow spots dotted across pasture land.dandelion-735814_1920

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The First Dandelion

Simple and fresh and fair from winter’s close emerging,

As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,

Forth from its sunny nook of shelter’d grass–innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,

The spring’s first dandelion shows its trustful face.

Source: “Leaves of Grass,” by Walt Whitman

Isn’t the simplicity of spring a blessing?  I think the most precious thing to see is a child walking toward me carrying a wicker basket filled with dandelions.  Let’s make memories we can cherish our whole lives.  🙂