August 31, 2011

New September Series at Carpe Vas!

Okay... so, I think it's time to start a series here on the blog. And September brings into view some of my favorite objects in the nighttime sky!  Jupiter, the Andromeda galaxy, the Double Cluster, the Coat Hanger, the Lagoon Nebula and it's nearby neighbor, the Trifid Nebula... to name just a few.

Enjoying God's Creation: A Look at the Heavens -- will post each Friday. I will share descriptions from weekly observing sessions, observing sketches, viewing tips and devotional thoughts to encourage my readers to get out... look up... and explore God's AMAZING nighttime wonders!

Join me under the stars in September.


August 25, 2011

I find great delight …

...  in the smell of autumn leaves on a cool, misty Fall day.

… in the way the night sky explodes through a simple pair of binoculars.

… in fresh insight from a bible passage I've read a thousand times.

… in witnessing the moment when cooked pudding thickens.

… in the peace that surrounds a sleeping baby.

... in the promise of life in the smell of freshly plowed fields.

... at the feel of rich, sun-warmed soil trickling through my fingers.

... in baby smiles and the uncontrollable giggles of small children.

... in a good cup of coffee.

... when I lose myself in God's presence.

... at the prospect of the unexplored path that beckons.

... in the birth of a new song in my spirit.

... in a job well done.

What brings you great delight? 

~ De

Photo credit:  OctaviusB

August 20, 2011

Children's Artwork From Around the World

Here are some fun examples of the wordless messages we receive from our Compassion International sponsored children. Each picture gives a unique glimpse into their perspective, their interests, their surroundings, and their personality. I really enjoy their little masterpieces!

Darwin, age 7 
The blue cloud, and the boy playing with his dog caught my eye first. My guess on the orange, yellow and purple building to the left, is that it represents the church where he attends the Compassion project. (??)

Jonathan, age 7
Look at the intensity in the way he colored the sun. He first drew the sun, colored the circle yellow, and then came back and colored around the sun with the orange. Maybe it was a really, really hot day. Green clouds! (that's a first).

Another picture from Jonathan
This picture is full of activity! LOVE the kite and the leash on the dog. I think the lines sticking up from their heads represents wind blown hair. What do you think? More blue clouds -- (can't help but smile). I notice that he drew people with smiling faces in both pictures. An encouraging sign.

Gayatri, age 10
The lacy floral pattern, and the colors she chose remind me of an embroidered tapestry. I received four letters from her in July/August this year, but this is my favorite of her drawings.  Her handwriting is also beautiful, and just as intricate as her artwork.

Each letter displays the children's developing writing skills, and for those with a bit of an artistic flare, more detail in their drawings, too.  Some of my older children have already abandoned crayons and markers for ink pens and words as they focus on perfecting the art of written communication. I celebrate the progress of the older children, and I look forward to a few more insightful drawings from the younger ones.

What wordless messages have you received from a special child in your life?


August 11, 2011

What's In the Mailbox?

Growing up on a mid-western farm, I remember the excitement of watching for the mailman and then racing my brother to the end of the lane to retrieve the contents from that over-sized box. On the rare occasions when the carrier sneaked by our sentry stations, the distinctive slap of the metal lid slamming shut told us there was something there… and off we ran to find out what it might be.

More than once I pried open the mailbox door to experience the droopy let-down as an empty, gray metal interior stared back. Not fun! I was glad that didn't happen very often, though I'm sure my parents felt just the opposite on those days. Mail of any kind  held an air of mystery that demanded to be solved.

Today, while waiting for a letter from one of my Compassion sponsored children, that same sense of anticipation floods over me at mail time. When a letter arrives, I won't know which child wrote to me until I open the envelope.  I savor each sentence, trying hard to make the letter last because it may be a while before another one comes.  I read it again… and again.  I digest and analyze everything about these tangible connections with my distant friends in an attempt to coax out every possible detail about the person who wrote it.

What does their penmanship tell me?  What colors do they choose for the pictures they draw?  What subjects do they draw?  Why?   Do they ask questions, or simply state information? Do their words convey concerns...  happiness and hope… spiritual growth?

All of these clues are like 1000's of pieces in one of those mega puzzles.  It takes a lot of time, patience and perseverance to put the whole picture together, but the end result is so satisfying and worth it.

This is my second year as a Compassion sponsor, and the growing exchange of letters sure helps to fill in the blanks about our sponsored children.  I'm thankful that, even though distance may somewhat hinder my ability to ever fully realize who they are, I can rest in the knowledge that God knows them intimately.

He knows exactly where they are and the circumstances they face.  He sees their potential.  He knows their hearts, their hurts, their desires, and He cares more deeply about each of them than any human ever could.

My role is to be faithful in my sponsorship… to pray for each child, and to write words of encouragement that communicate how special they are to God's heart.  Getting a letter in return is just an added bonus, really.

But I must say… one of the really fun things about being a Compassion sponsor is rediscovering the excitement of wondering … what's in the mailbox?

August 9, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

Uncle Dale half-muttered, half-grunted the phrase as he slipped into his chair with a big sigh. "It's the dog days of summer, kid."

Cloud sweat on my window - 2011
A cool, damp cloth hung across the back of his neck. He pulled the old blue-green box fan a little closer. The paper match exploded as he scratched it against the back of the folded matchbook, and the smell of sulfur wafted across the air. The muted crackle of tiny tobacco leaves gave way to the flames of his first draw on that old Lucky Strike, and I sat there expectantly awaiting an explanation.

It was the height of a 1960's summer heat wave, and I had never heard the weather described like that before.  Scenes of gnat-ridden, stinky dogs suffering miserably in the shade filled my six-year old mind.  Why, of course.  Summer days so hot that even the dogs get lazy.  (???)  That must be what he meant.

He probably tried to explain it to me, but the dog-in-the-shade picture just kind of stuck in my mind all these years.  It wasn't until I sat down to write this that it even occurred to me to Google the phrase and see what pops up.

"The dog days of summer" is a phrase steeped in ancient science.  Early astronomers noted that the constellation Canis Major (The Big Dog) rose with the sun and travelled across the daytime sky during the period from July 3 to August 11 each year. These renowned men concluded that the soaring heat patterns were due to the fact that Sirius (the Dog Star) -- the largest and brightest star of constellation Canis Major -- added its heat to that of the sun during the daylight hours of this timeframe."  

Hmmmm…. Never mind the whole earth tilting thing.  No concern about global warming.   Well….. there you have it… soaring temperatures and muggy misery blamed on The Dog.  It's no more accurate, and by no means as memorable as the profusely panting pooch imagery I connected to my uncle's comment. Who needs cause and effect anyway... I'll stick with my definition.


Thankfully, there are just two official days left in the "dog days of summer" cycle.  Good-bye never comes quickly enough as far as I'm concerned.  But the days somehow slip by.  Another season lies just ahead, and the excitement of change fills the air as summer gives way to fall and to the promise of reprieve from the suffocating humidity.

Every year, when the deafening buzz of the cicadae fills the air, I find myself walking through the memories of my mind, listening to my uncle spin yarns and explain the mysteries of science, history, social responsibility… and occasionally something about sweaty old dogs... and silly stuff like that.



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