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Suzanne W
Lived in Massachusetts
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Suzanne W

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Soft and lovely...
I love the colorful background textures that +Joel Olives creates.
You can find them on JoelOlives.com

#FloralFriday   #Textures   #Photography  
 
#floralfriday  Have a great weekend everyone!
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nice 
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Suzanne W

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~ A delightful sunset over one of the many kasbahs of the
beautiful Berber village of N'Kob, Morocco!

#NKob #Morocco #Kasbah #SunsetPhotography   
 
La magie d'un coucher de soleil
un ciel qui se colore de toutes les teintes au dessus de l'une des trsè nombreuses kasbahs de N'Kob
vue de dessus, N'Kob , avec ses 45 belles kasbahs  fait sortir de la réalité et entrer das un imaginaire qui rappelle les mille et une nuit.

Licence Paternité - Pas d'utilisation commerciale - Partage selon les Conditions Initiales - Certains droits réservés par Florian Martys.
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Beautifil.
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Suzanne W

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Sundarban Forest, Khulna Province, Bangladesh
Photographer: Tim Laman
Wood collectors with boats loaded with Goran wood, 
harvested from the mangrove forest, for making charcoal.

#Bangladesh   #Charcoal   #SundarbanMangroveForest  
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Those boats look top heavy. 
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The majority of this page contains quotes and references concerning the pagan origins and associations in connection with: DECEMBER 25, JESUS' BIRTHDAY, GIFT-GIVING, FEASTING, MERRY-MAKING, CHRISTMAS TREES, MISTLETOE, HOLLY, and YULE:

DECEMBER 25

"Neither scripture nor secular history records the date of Jesus' birth; even the season of the year is not stipulated. Some evidence points to spring, but it is not conclusive. The only thing reasonably certain about the coming of the Christ Child is that his birth did not take place in winter. .... In A. D. 350 Pope Julius I formally designated December 25 as Christmas. He chose that date because it coincided with important pagan festivals. These, in turn, were linked with the winter solstice [the shortest day of the year]." - How it Started, p. 54.

"It was noted later that this date [Dec. 25] would fall within the rainy season in Palestine, so that the shepherds would hardly have been in the fields as they were when Jesus was born." - p. 1425, The World Book Encyclopedia, 1958.

Isaac Asimov in an article for Saturday Review tells us that the ancient pagan Romans celebrated

"a week-long Saturnalia [honoring the Roman god Saturn] from Dec. 17 to 24. It was a time of unrelieved merriment and joy.... gifts were given all around." Asimov continues, "the worship of Mithra, a sun-god of Persia, was becoming popular, especially among the soldiers. The Mithraists celebrated the birth of Mithra at the winter solstice, a natural time, and fixed on the day December 25 so that the popular Roman Saturnalia could build up to the Mithraist `Day of the Sun' as a climax.

"At that time, Christianity was locked in a great duel with the Mithraists for the hearts and minds of the people of the Roman Empire. .... Sometime after 300, Christianity managed the final coup of absorbing the Saturnalia, and with it scored its final victory over Mithraism. December 25 was established as the day of the birth of Jesus and the great festival was made Christian. There is absolutely no Biblical authority for Dec. 25 as having been the day of the Nativity." (Cf. "Sol Invictus", p. 725, An Encyclopedia of Religion, 1945 ed.)

"December 25 was already a major festival in the pagan Roman world, the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or `Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,' a feast honoring the renewal of the sun at the winter solstice. Pagan celebrations on December 25 had included feasting, dancing, lighting bonfires, decorating homes with greens, and giving gifts. So when this became a Christian [?] festival, the customs continued, but with a Christian [?] meaning imparted to them. Throughout the [Catholic] Middle Ages, Christmas was a richly varied religious holiday. However, during the Commonwealth, the English Puritans, repelled by both the pagan practices and the religious ceremonies, forbade any religious or secular celebration of Christmas. The English celebration returned with the return of the Stuarts ["near-Catholic" Church of England monarchs], but Christmas observances were still outlawed in Puritan New England for many years; and not until the 19th century did Christmas become a legal holiday in America." - p. 414, Vol. 4, Encyclopedia International, Grolier, Inc., 1966.

(Also see: The Date of Jesus' Birth)
https://plus.google.com/118356805627875468789/posts/fw9WPjoiExb


JESUS' BIRTHDAY

"Early Christians [from time of Christ until the 4th century] frowned on [celebrating anyone's birthday], which was too closely linked with pagan customs to be given the approval of the church." - How It Started, p. 213.

The Christian Book of Why, by Dr. John C. McCollister (Lutheran minister and university professor, graduate of Trinity Lutheran Seminary), Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 1983, tells us on p. 205:

"Christians of the first century did not celebrate the festival honoring the birth of Jesus - for the same reason they honored no other birthday anniversary. It was the feeling at that time by ALL Christians that the celebration of all birthdays (even the Lord's) was a custom of the PAGANS. In an effort to divorce themselves from ALL pagan practices, the early Christians refused to set aside a date marking Jesus' birth. As a result, the first celebration of Christmas by Christians [?] did not take place until the fourth century."

Think about it for a moment. Exactly who were included in "ALL Christians of the first century" (1 A. D. - 100 A. D.)?

Yes, the Jews themselves never celebrated birthdays until long after the death of Jesus. They considered it a purely pagan custom and detestable to the God they worshiped. Jesus and his Apostles continued this belief and so did their followers for centuries!

"As late as 245 [A. D.] Origen (hom. viii. on Leviticus) repudiated the idea of keeping the birthday of Christ, `as if he were a king Pharaoh [Gen. 4:19-22].'" - Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., p. 642, Vol. 5.

(Also see: The Date of Jesus' Birth)
https://plus.google.com/118356805627875468789/posts/fw9WPjoiExb


GIFT-GIVING, FEASTING, MERRY-MAKING 

The Saturnalia, a pagan Roman festival honoring the Roman god Saturn, has supplied many of the elements found in Christmas.

"Most of the Christmas customs now prevailing in Europe [and America] ... are not genuine Christian customs, but heathen customs which have been absorbed or tolerated by the Church... The Saturnalia in Rome provided the model for most of the merry customs of the Christmas time.... Christmas inherited the general merriment in a more restrained form (excessive only in eating and drinking) [but see 1 Pet. 4:3, 4]: games, giving of gifts (especially to children), abundance of sweet meats and, as more ceremonious elements, burning of candles..." - Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Hastings, Vol. III, pp. 608, 609.

"Saturnalia presents included wax dolls, given to children. A charming custom, no doubt, by times of record, but with a macabre past: even contemporaries thought this probably a vestige of human sacrifice, of children, to aid sowing." - History Today, as quoted in 22 Dec. 1992 Awake!.

"The early Church in Rome had a particularly hard battle against two other great pagan festivals, the week-long Saturnalia, which began Dec. 17, and the Kalends, which greeted the New Year. The first festival was a time of licensed misrule, often presided over by a lord of merriment, not so much Santa as fat Saturn himself, the orgiast of eating, drinking and other kinds of naughtiness. It was during Kalends, when the year changed, however, that gifts were ritually exchanged, often tied to the boughs of greenery that decorated houses during the festivities.

"The attitude of the early church toward all this indecent jollity was predictably frosty. Its fathers, notably the fulminating St. John Chrysostom, urged no compromise with heathen abominations." - Simon Schama, professor of history at Harvard University, in a feature article of the 24 Dec. 1991 issue of The New York Times.


CHRISTMAS TREES

"Many countries claim the distinction of having launched the custom of erecting Christmas trees, but it may have begun independently in several parts of Europe. Ceremonial worship of trees in ancient pagan rites almost certainly led to the decoration of trees at the time of the winter solstice. German emigrants [coming to the U.S.] brought with them the custom of setting up trees in their houses at Christmas." - How It Started, pp. 52, 53.

"It is believed that the custom is a survival of the tree worship of ancient German tribes." -- "Tree worship was common in Scandinavian countries.... When the pagans of Northern Europe became Christians [?], they made their sacred evergreen trees part of the Christian festival, and decorated the trees with gilded nuts, candles (a carry-over from sun worship), and apples to stand for the stars, moon, and sun." - pp. 1429, 1425, The World Book Encyclopedia, 1958 ed.

"I will stretch out my hand against [those worshiping me falsely in] Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem. I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal, the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests - those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the LORD [Jehovah] and who also swear by Molech, those who turn back from following [Jehovah] and neither seek [Jehovah] nor inquire of him." - Zephaniah 1:4-6, NIVSB. The footnote for verse 1:5 reads: "swear by the LORD ... by Molech. Syncretism (worship of one's own god along with other gods)."

So again we see God's absolute hatred of "every remnant" of pagan worship mixed in with his true worship. Obviously this includes remnants of sacred tree worship and pagan worship of "the starry host" (stars, moon and sun)! But what were the decorations on the sacred evergreen tree intended to represent? "decorated the trees with gilded nuts, candles [electric lights today] (a carry-over from sun worship), and apples to stand for the stars, moon, and sun."

"From the earliest times the worship of trees has played an important part in the religious life of European peoples.... tree-worship is well attested for all the great European families of the Aryan stock. Amongst the Celts the oak-worship of the Druids is familiar to everyone. Sacred groves were common among the ancient Germans, and tree-worship is hardly extinct amongst their descendants at the present day. How serious that worship was in former times may be gathered from the ferocious penalty appointed by the old German laws for such as dared to peel the bark of a standing tree. [In times of famine starving peoples subsisted on the inner bark of certain trees.] The culprit's navel was to be cut out and nailed to the part of the tree which he had peeled, and he was to be driven round and round the tree till all his guts were wound about its trunk. The intention of the punishment clearly was to replace the dead bark by a living substitute taken from the culprit.... Proofs of the prevalence of tree-worship in ancient Greece and Italy [including Rome itself] are abundant." - pp. 106, 107, 108, The New Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer, Revised and edited by Dr. Theodor H. Gaster, Mentor Book, 1964 printing.

Is it any wonder that any trace of pagan worship is abhorrent to God?

MISTLETOE

"Why mistletoe [for Christmas decoration] instead of some other plant? Because this parasite which draws its nurture from oaks and other trees was regarded by the Druids of ancient Britain as endowed with supernatural power. .... Christians tried for centuries to discourage any use of mistletoe at any season of the year. The deeply ingrained practices rooted in [pagan] festivals around the time of the modern Christmas proved too stubborn to be eliminated, however." - How It Started, pp. 53, 54.

"Mistletoe is the famous Golden Bough, honored in Norse legend and worshiped by the Druids." - p. 337, Celebrations - The Complete Book of American Holidays, Robert J. Myers, Doubleday & Co., 1972.


HOLLY 

"The Druids of prehistoric Britain revered the plant we know as holly. .... It was all but inevitable that the use of the semi - sacred plant should become linked with the Christian [?] celebration that supplanted the older pagan one. Many scholars even think that `holly' is an adaptation of an early form of the word holy." - How It Started, p. 56.


YULE

"In most of Europe [Christmas] is known as `Christ's Birthday.' Scandinavian countries still use the pagan name `Yule Day.' .... The Druids blessed [the Yule log] with great ceremony at the winter feast. (See Druid.)" - pp. 1425, 1426, The World Book Encyclopedia, 1958 ed.

"Yule (yool) n. Christmas. OE geol, originally a twelve-day heathen feast" - The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1973, Dell.

"The burning of a huge log in the fireplace on Christmas day is a tradition followed by many European Christians that was borrowed from the Norsemen who burned a huge oak log called the Juul (pronounced `Yool' or `Yule') in honor of Thor, the God of thunder. After Christianity became the accepted faith of many Norsemen, they retained this custom as a part of their Christmas celebration. Later, the Scandinavians adopted the practice and even referred to the season as the `Yule season' or `Yuletide'." England and other European countries later adopted the tradition. - The Christian Book of Why, Dr. John C. McCollister (pastor and university professor, graduate of Trinity Lutheran Seminary), p. 215, Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 1983.

------------------------------------------------------

"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? .... `Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord. `Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you ...' says the Lord Almighty." - 2 Cor. 6:16, 17, NIVSB. [NIVSB f.n.: "agreement...between the temple of God and idols. There can be no reversion to or compromise with the idolatry they have forsaken for the gospel (cf. 1 Th. 1:9)."]
--------------------------------------------------------------
SOURCE: Christmas - It's Origins And Associations
http://defendingjehovahswitnesses.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-its-origins-and-associations.html
---------------------------------------------------------------

For More Articles Concerning Christmas / Holidays, See:

Links to Articles Concerning Christmas From JW.ORG:
http://goo.gl/5zIUiz

Why Don't Jehovah's Witnesses Celebrate Christmas?
http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/why-not-celebrate-christmas/

What Does the Bible Say About Christmas?
http://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/bible-about-christmas/

Christmas Customs - Are They Christian? (w00 12/15 pp. 3-7; Watchtower Online Library)
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2000920

In Search of the Christmas Spirit
http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20121201/the-christmas-spirit/

Why Do Some People Not Celebrate Christmas?
http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20121201/why-some-do-not-celebrate-christmas/

Something Better Than Christmas
http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20121201/

Remembering Jesus Christ
http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20121201/remembering-jesus-christ/

How Should Christ Be Remembered? (w04 12/15 pp. 4-7; Watchtower Online Library)
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2004921

Jesus' Birth - How and Why it Happened (w02 12/15 pp. 3-5; Watchtower Online Library)
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2002921
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Thank you for your kind wishes, +Aheste Beste! :)
~ All my best wishes to you and your family! 
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Suzanne W

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~ Good morning! :)
Double flower form Helleborus x hybridus
Photographer: Jacky Parker

These perennials produce a bushy clump of thick, leathery evergreen leaves. Flower stalks appear in early spring, bearing large nodding flowers in many shades, from white through to cream, pink, red, purple and maroon, often with contrasting spots or streaks. Site these where they will stay for many years, since the plants resent being disturbed. Trimming the old leaves to the ground in late winter will make the show of flowers more easily seen. 
(Skin irritant/harmful if eaten.) 

#FloralFriday     #JehovahsBeautifulCreations  
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+Jewelianne W 
Good morning, Julianne, and thank you, dear!
Yes, I, too, thought of how often through the years my bedroom ended up with some variation of that color scheme. :)
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~ Good morning! Hope you have a wonderful day!
Australia
Photographer: Isabella Schiller

Every morning the world is created
Under the orange sticks of the sun 
the heaped ashes of the night 
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches.
And the ponds appear like black cloth
on which are painted islands of summer lilies.
— Morning Poem (excerpt) by Mary Oliver

#Australia   #Photography    #Morning  
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My pleasure indeed, +Bret Niemuth, I'm happy you liked it. :)
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Suzanne W

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Jeff Golub - "Have You Heard" from his 2005 Temptation CD
~ Sad news, Jeff passed away on Jan.1, he will be missed. 
A tribute concert featuring many of the artists with whom Jeff collaborated will take place Jan. 21 at B.B. King's Blues Club in Manhattan.

#JeffGolub   #Tribute    #SmoothJazz   #Guitarist  
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hy
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Out of the darkness...
Gypsy Cob stallion - (aka Gypsy Vanner)
Photographer: Martina Gates

Traditionally used by gypsies in Great Britain to pull their wagons, their lineage was kept as family secrets to the point that they did not become a recognized breed until the late 20th century.
Their qualities of soundness and sanity, along with their exquisite beauty and faithfulness make them one of the truly great breeds.

#GypsyCob   #GypsyVanner   #Equine   #Stallion  
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Breathtakingly beautiful
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A star over Bethlehem?                                 by WILLIAM WRIGHT 

The star of Bethlehem has been called everything from one of the most powerful symbols of Christianity to a myth and legend manufactured by the early church. Nothing like it has ever been recorded in the annals of history. 

The story has become so famous that people hang a representation atop Christmas trees to signify the night when Christ was born. That was a longstanding tradition in my birth family. I must say that reading what the Bible actually says about this star challenged many long-cherished beliefs I held as a child. Why?

Take for example, the account at Matthew 2:1-2. If you read those verses you will notice that the wise men from the east were not initially led to baby Jesus. They were led to Jerusalem where King Herod was made aware of Christ being born. Ask yourself, why did this star lead these men (the Bible does not say three men) to the one man who had a motive to kill baby Jesus? Did you notice that neither these wise men nor Herod knew where to find Jesus? According to Matthew 2:4, Herod demanded to know from the chief priests and scribes where Christ was to be born.

Once Herod was told that Christ would be born in Bethlehem, some six miles away, verses 7 and 8 said it was Herod who sent the wise men to Bethlehem, not God. So, instead of leading them directly to Jesus, this “star” alerted God’s enemy to the saviors’ whereabouts. 

Matthew 2:9 said, “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” 

Since real stars don’t suddenly reappear, fly ahead of people and stop over a single destination, could this guiding light have been something else? If what these wise men saw was visible to all eyes, why didn’t other people run to this location also?

More importantly, if this “star” was from God, why were the wise men given a divine warning not to return to Herod and an angel warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Jesus in verses 12 and 13? If the star was from God, why would He have endangered His own Son by leading these men to His enemies first? This is so inconsistent with the way God dealt with His servants in the past and His way of informing His true servants of Jesus’ birth in Luke’s account. 

According to Luke chapter 2, on the actual night of Jesus’ birth, God used an angel to alert shepherds in the field that His Son was born. Think about it. God used angels to inform His servants of events surrounding the coming of the Messiah. He used prophets, visions, dreams and angels but never did God use a star to lead pagan stargazers anywhere, much less to the enemy.

Let’s not forget that the results of King Herod being tipped off by the wise men being led by this star had horrific consequences. The star and these wise men became instrumental in the king having all the boys of Bethlehem, from 2 years of age and under, executed mercilessly, according to Matthew 2:16. Screams of hapless mothers who saw their children murdered all over Jerusalem must have rued the day these wise men were led there by this star!

It is interesting that the Greek word, magi, translated “wise men” also means “astrologers.” The book, “The Dawn of Civilization and Life in the Ancient East,” says, “The Chaldeans made great progress in the study of astronomy through an effort to discover the future in the stars. This art we call ‘astrology.’”

Question: Would God use astrology and a star to guide “astrologers” to His enemy in Jerusalem, and then toward His Son in Bethlehem, yet warn Mary and Joseph to flee? Hardly. 

Could anyone else have been behind the appearance of this “star” to thwart the birth of our Lord and Savior? Keep in mind that 2Corinthians 11:14 tells us, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” — New International Version. Who, more than Satan, wanted to destroy this child in order to oppose God’s purpose? Wouldn’t this be a clever way of doing it? 

Another fact came to light concerning the time these astrologers found Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Artists’ renderings have three wise men standing over the baby Jesus lying in a manger. According to Matthew 2:11, by the time they arrived, Jesus was not a babe in a manger but a child in a house. The only ones recorded in the Bible as seeing Jesus on the night he was born were shepherds alerted by God’s angels. 

Luke 2:16 said, “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Based on what King Herod learned from the astrologers, all the boys in Bethlehem 2 years of age and under had to be murdered, indicating Jesus may have been a child as old as 2 by the time the astrologers met him!

Besides, had these “wise men” come at Jesus’ birth in a manger, bringing gold and other valuables, wouldn’t Mary and Joseph have been able to afford a better sacrifice than the “two young pigeons” mentioned at Luke 2:22-24? That provision was reserved only for the poor.

Reasoning on the Bible’s account of events before, during and after that “star’s” strange arrival — as well as whose interest was served best — can open new insights if the Bible alone is our guide. Pray for truth and understanding. 

Everyone must decide for themselves what to believe. As mentioned at the outset, nothing like it has ever been recorded in the annals of history. Read the account again, objectively, and see if that star seems innocent. 

Whatever that controversial star from the east was, it will never replace Jesus, the bright morning star mentioned at Revelation 22:16, which leads to our salvation.

This article was written by WILLIAM WRIGHT 
http://www.clevelandbanner.com/view/full_story/10664812/article-WRIGHT-WAY--A-star-from-the-East?instance=main_article

Related Articles:

Who Sent the “Star”?
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2012251

What Kind of Star Led the “Wise Men” to Jesus?
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102009446

The Truth About Christmas
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102010442

Jesus Christ—How Should We Remember Him?
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2013887

“The Three Wise Men”—Who Were They?
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2002928

#christmas   #jesusbirth   #star   #jworg  
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can i know more of you
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Light and shadow
Tizi n'Tichka - Morocco
Photographer: Kheir Addine Azzaoui

Tizi n'Tichka is a mountain pass in Morocco, linking the south-east of Marrakech to the city of Ouarzazate through the High Atlas mountains. It lies between the great Marrakech Plains and the gateway of the Sahara Desert. - Wikipedia

#TiziNTichka   #Morocco  
 
ombre et lumière
le col de Tizi N'Tichka  qui fait un de ses caprices: pas de neige pour tout le monde.  (Haut atlas - Maroc)
azzaphotos
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Morocco is beautiful!!!
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Suzanne W

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Lonely Soaring
The Meteora - Central Greece
Photographer: Andrew Thrasher

The name “Meteora” derives from the Greek adjective meteoros, which means suspended in the air. In the 11th century AD these natural caves became a safe haven for hermit monks during the Turkish incursions into Greece since the inaccessibility of the rocks made the Meteora an ideal retreat. 

The Meteora consists of soaring pillars of smooth rock and ancient monasteries that sit atop them. The center and heart of the Meteora is the Adhrakhti, or obelisk, a striking column that is visible from anywhere in Kastraki.

#Meteora   #Greece  
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good week end dear +Suzanne W  very nice post !
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Lighthouse Dawn
Point Betsie Lighthouse - Point Betsie, Frankfort, Michigan, US
Photographer: John McCormick

There is life and there are bright lights
Deep within a child, a mother, a warrior--
I have and will always glow.
And I swear I could taste the fluorescence
Sweet on your tongue, color that emanates
From deep within the hollows of the earth.
Call me Gibraltar, my Rosenkavalier 
And every day, I will get up stronger.
The sky curves above us, cerulean blue,
To match the sea and all its triumph.
A mirror: a reflection of the eyes of God.
At times like these, my heart roars: a tall lioness.
You still don't know me, but that's alright.
I still embody light but things have changed
I am a lighthouse, not a lifeboat,
And I stand radiant on the shore. 
— "Lighthouse" excerpt, by Little Bird

#PointBetsieLighthouse   #Lighthouse   #Michigan   #Morning  
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No no had a great experience with people that lived in Bangkok excellent reception we were their guests , they have lots of good relations with Americans ( Tiger Woods mother was from there ) I it's when we went in the the poor village were very glad to see us I swear if u handed the kids a candy bar they jump& down thinking it was Christmas just like South Koreans did when were there . Asians are grateful for anything they receive . They so grateful for the help our Military & the very missionaries gave them .
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Introduction
~ Honored to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses since 1985. ~
(Isaiah 43:10-12 - Acts 15:14 - Psalm 83:18) 

~ Mother of two - Grandmother of three

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