Free At Last

•16/05/2020 • Leave a Comment

Within the Vine

Version 3

I just saw a lovely pastel sketch of a ‘butterfly’ and woman merged into one mythical creature

The title of the piece declared

Free at last…

We may long to be free of the restrictions being human brings

to feel freedom like the creatures of the air

even on a spiritual level

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But before the caterpillar becomes ‘free’

it must first submit to a kind of death

to a death of familiar

death of safe

death of known

death of its old life

its old ways

its perceived power and control

it must submit to the silence and isolation of the cocoon

it must submit perhaps to the unknown…

It must trust instincts inbred

to find

that right place

that right season

to weave a cocoon in the right way

then

entangling oneself within

remain completely vulnerable

and wait

whilst changes of mammoth significance occur

not once questioning or interrupting…

View original post 106 more words

Passion of Christ

•11/04/2020 • Leave a Comment

The world had gone crazy

Nature echoed the aching agony they felt

The storm matched the cry of their hearts

Blackened skies tearing winds

Growling thunder piercing strikes

Turbulent winds ripped at clothing

And drove sand to sting the skin

The Earth lurched at the shock of it all

Soldiers had duties to perform

A base job separating warm dead flesh from metal spikes driven deep into the timbers of a cross

The women waited below watching every move

They had stood a little way off keeping vigil through the whole chilling ordeal

Dried blood caked around the wounds made the job difficult

What little light remained was fading fast

Finally they lowered Him to Loving hands below

The men reached for the body and the women drew near

Together they wrapped Him in grave-clothes and delivered Him to the tomb

Another army worked fast too

Amazing this prize delivered to them

They bound and gagged Him

Tied Him hand and foot

To make sure they doubled up with hefty chains secured with sturdy locks

Didn’t want this one to get away

It all seemed unnecessary

The man stood exhausted, defeated

He did not move but remained, head bowed

Mute, a shadow of His Former Self

It did not stop the prisoners,

They saw it as a cause for celebration

Roughly, some jumped upon His shoulders,

Others struck Him behind His knees

Pushing him to the filthy floor

They fought amongst themselves eager to be next to spit on Him

Fingering the open wounds,

Pressing splinters harder into the shadow of His flesh

So they taunted Him,

Repeating lies and accusations

Returning to the mockery that had filled His ears as He journeyed to the End

A jab, a punch, a kick here and there

Each jibe increased their jubilation

Howls and squeals of demented gloating echoed far into the darkest recesses of the hell in which they stood

No light shone here, no compassion found

No soft voices or forgiveness

Degradation streamed down the walls,

It caked the floor and piled in every corner

Once shackled and completely bound,

They led him further into the Darkness

Past chambers of the lost they paraded Him

To the furthest reaches of Hopelessness

There behind thick dense doors,

They chained Him down, burdened with the World’s Sin

Layer upon layer pinning down this meek Companion of God

Satan roared with the Boast

Him I have ensnared

The World did not hear God’s voice

They did not recognised Messiah

That Hope is dashed now, Shattered, Gone forever

When the last key was turned

The crowd of Dark angels sloped away into dismal shadows

Despair dripped all around

This a world without Light

This a world without God

But then

Something stirred in the darkness,

Something trickled through the cracks

Soft at first, a mere ripple

That grew to a deep throaty gurgled like a stream of living water

It flowed into every dark and dismal ear… Laughter

The Laugh of Victory

The Evil one stopped in his mean tracks

Dread replaced his spiteful joy

He knew that sound, he’d heard it from the beginning of time

This laugh grew in Power and Strength

Each Peal shook those slimy Halls of the Dead

Calling down the Righteousness of God

His Pure Radiance shone

Light flooded the Halls

Banishing darkness

Chains shattered

Walls began to crumple

Heavy doors splintered as Christ the Son of God stepped from the dungeon

He took it all

He walked free

Terror melts in his warmth

Lifting a finger He writes upon the wall

‘Jesus Christ can be found even here

The Way, The Truth and the Life’

The purity of His touch transforms

Never again can any soul be imprisoned beyond His Reach

Satan continues to sell the lie that some are beyond Redemption

Do not believe such falsehood

Christ is Victorious over Death and the Depths of Despair

The Passion of Christ stands as our claim to the Simple Truth

God Loves, Here, Now…

Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2010

My interpretation of events following the Crucifixion and prior to the Resurrection

Apostles Creed

Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 27

Whilst this piece may be a flight of imagination, the final message is Truth.

In This Chaos

•15/03/2020 • 1 Comment

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Meditation

•10/03/2020 • Leave a Comment

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When Healing Doesn’t Come

•20/01/2020 • Leave a Comment

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I enjoy the pure pleasure of running,

The wind in my face,

Workings of muscle, limb and lungs…

Heart pumping exhilaration

The freedom and release – astonishing!

Someone even called out to me,” Where’s  your wheelchair?”

My reply came in breathless gasps,” I don’t need a wheelchair in dreams!”

I am, among other things, a Polio Survivor.

Post-Polio Syndrome now my constant companion

It limits my everyday activities like standing for long or walking…

A powered wheelchair is my go-to

I used to call it my electric chair… but that drew too many odd looks!

Running, dancing are long gone

Singing or speaking for long periods

My most recent losses.

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Of course, among Christians, I have been asked many times about healing,

Do I believe enough to be healed,

The implication being if you believe hard enough, you will be healed

I find this highly offensive

I know a mother broken and weary by her son’s battle with Cancer

She was told, “If you believed enough even now he could be healed!”

We were at his funeral!

I know what the Lord chose to do for Martha and Mary

Oh, how we love to think we know God’s heart!

How we love to try and be God!

Healing is His to do or do not

It’s His bidding!

I have seen Him heal

I know it happens

I have witnessed miracles

And yet

My answer is this.

Should God choose to heal me

He has my permission to go right ahead without hesitation.

That mother’s son was a wonderful believer, I know he felt the same!

God does heal

I’ve seen it

I bear witness

Miracles happen

I repeat

God heals

Not people

I will accept what God has in store for me with as much grace as I am able

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Much like I did when this horrible condition began to interfere with the life I had at the time!

I was a Christian then too,

My life fully and firmly held in His hands,

My career set on a new ministry

Which is why I know He allowed this to happen.

He didn’t make it happen

But since He was there when Polio attacked

He was with the Child close to death

He knows the extent of damage done

He knew how it would take its toll.

He could have stopped it

He chose not to

There must be a good reason!

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I came to know Him through what followed

So why would I spend every borrowed breath asking Him to take it away?

This is God’s chosen path for me

I have much to learn

That’s hard to swallow at times

Sometimes I struggle,

I weep overall I’ve lost

I rage over what others have

I’ve come to know that God deals in Tough Love

What’s best for us isn’t always comfortable, nor easy, certainly not pretty

I have met people on this path I would not have met otherwise

Humility, vulnerability, exhaustion, dependence

Learning to ask,

Learning to be

And an utter end of Self

Sometimes He allows the ugly because He trusts us.

He trusts us enough to take Him into it

So He can work through it with us

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At times when the pain is too bad,

When the weakness floors me

When the choking scares me

I pray He takes it away.

He gives me ease

He also gives me courage, patience, faith, trust

The weakness to find Him in the midst

Because

What I have to bring

All I have to bring

Is an inadequate offering

Merely crumbs

Not much helps

I struggle, fight, weep

Raging over all I’ve lost

He makes up the difference,

As promised in His Word

In His strength alone

I live, breathe, touch, taste,

I watch, see, listen, laugh

I love, meditate, wait

I knit, write, potter, pray,

I hope

And have dreams where I dance and run with pure joy…

sereneph6

Words and Pictures ©Denise Stanford 2020

All Westie Rescue

•11/05/2019 • Leave a Comment

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I can vividly recall the first time I saw dogs rescued from a puppy farm. Dan pulled up flustered, tears in her eyes, her car full of crates.

She had been part of a Puppy Farm Rescue and overwhelmed by the experience, she needed a chat. Together we looked at the dogs cowering in the crates.

Only one dog was able to come forward when I cooed at them. She licked the back of my hand, head held low, fearful eyes switching from one to the other of us, it almost broke my heart.

After all the dog had been through at the hands of Man, that gesture was miraculous.

Dogs are put to breed non-stop from their first season. The conditions in which they are kept are harrowing.

No supervision will safeguard her when the male is put in with her and left.

No vet called when she gives birth to the puppies.

No special diet to nourish her. The puppies will take all the nutrients they needed from the mother and if she had congenital anomalies those are be passed on as well. 

Whoever buys puppies from such breeders would have to meet exorbitant vet bills to correct the problems, or abandon the pups altogether. Always insist on seeing the mother of any puppy you buy.

It is astonishing to watch the progress and recovery of these dogs… some so traumatised it takes years to gain their confidence, just like Ned.  (pic above)

Danielle at All Westie Rescue uses an holistic approach with amazing results.

The dogs, who seem so old when they arrive, with time and tender loving care, slowly become younger, discovering a puppyish and playful demeanour previously smothered with the burden of breeding, far too early.

They come alive, to reveal their individual loving and loyal characters, like Miss Merry seen here.

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AWR also takes in pet Westies that have been relinquished because of need, domestic difficulties or changes, ill health or problematic behaviours. Again the changes in these are amazing.

No Westie is too damaged to be taken in by AWR, and if their abuse has taken too much from them, they pass away loved, cherished and respected as never before.

The dogs are given such love and care the results speak for themselves.

Donations are welcome anytime but on Mother’s Day Weekend Auction will be held to raise much-needed funds to help cover the considerable vet and food bills  (see their Facebook page) 

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Knitting a couple of shawls seems like something so small to donate.

The Mohair Hug or ‘Mo’ shawl is white and furry like the West Highland Terriers themselves.

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Worked on 4 mm needles to a Janina Kallio pattern called Paddington’s Garden, it isn’t large (I ran out of yarn) but it is warm, cosy and so soft.

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A Highland wool blend was used for the other Hug shawl, Wisp; it’s a kettle dyed superwash yarn.

Knitted on 4 mm needles using a pattern by Nora Backlund called Reyna.

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Each is donated in the sincere hope that AWR can continue the amazing work they do to bring these darling dogs back to life and health, and share with their new, respectful and responsible owners the laughter, delight and loyal love these dogs were born to give…

Words Denise Stanford 2019

photos – All Westie Rescue – Australia with permission and Denise Stanford 2019

Last of the Summer Wine

•25/04/2019 • Leave a Comment

IMG_0461It is autumn here in Australia; the Vine is vibrant with colour.

Nights have become chilly and while some days are cooler, others surprise with heat; a perfect Indian Summer then.

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My needles have been busy producing Hugs, the collective name I have given to anything from tippets to shawls, including scarves, neckerchiefs, shawlettes, stoles and snuggle rugs.

Living with Post Polio Syndrome, the Pain, Battle Fatigue, increasing weakness and all that goes with it, has robbed me of many things. I cannot do much now… but I can still knit.

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I have chosen to concentrate my efforts on knitting these Hugs, with a view to donating them for Fundraising events.

If individuals want to buy them, I would give a guide price and ask they donate to one of the many ministries at our church.

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The latest ‘Hug’ to leave my blocking boards is lovely.

Hand dyed, lace weight Superwash virgin wool knitted on 4 mm needles, much larger than recommended for this weight yarn.

The pattern, ‘Interlude’ by Janina Kallio has produced a small shawl that is light and lacy.

IMG_0433Shades of a cherry red splash across the fine yarn with an occasional shock of white; it reminds of a good red spilt across white linen.

I bought the yarn in someone’s destash sale, from Schoppel the colour Beerenhauslese roughly translates as the last berry harvest.

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It brings to mind the last harvest of grapes, happening in Australian vineyards just about now.

Winemakers will be hoping the Autumnal changes have brought on “Noble Rot”  or Botrytis. This is one blight they hope for since it brings new depths to this last of the summer wine.

So you see age and blight can sometimes bring unexpected rewards!

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2019

 

Passion of Christ

•20/04/2019 • Leave a Comment

The world had gone crazy

Nature echoed the aching agony they felt

The storm matched the cry of their hearts

Blackened skies tearing winds

Growling thunder piercing strikes

Turbulent winds ripped at clothing

And drove sand to sting the skin

The Earth lurched at the shock of it all

Soldiers had duties to perform

A base job separating warm dead flesh from metal spikes driven deep into the timbers of a cross

The women waited below watching every move

They had stood a little way off keeping vigil through the whole chilling ordeal

Dried blood caked around the wounds made the job difficult

What little light remained was fading fast

Finally they lowered Him to Loving hands below

The men reached for the body and the women drew near

Together they wrapped Him in grave-clothes and delivered Him to the tomb

Another army worked fast too

Amazing this prize delivered to them

They bound and gagged Him

Tied Him hand and foot

To make sure they doubled up with hefty chains secured with sturdy locks

Didn’t want this one to get away

It all seemed unnecessary

The man stood exhausted, defeated

He did not move but remained, head bowed

Mute, a shadow of His Former Self

It did not stop the prisoners,

They saw it as a cause for celebration

Roughly, some jumped upon His shoulders,

Others struck Him behind His knees

Pushing him to the filthy floor

They fought amongst themselves eager to be next to spit on Him

Fingering the open wounds,

Pressing splinters harder into the shadow of His flesh

So they taunted Him,

Repeating lies and accusations

Returning to the mockery that had filled His ears as He journeyed to the End

A jab, a punch, a kick here and there

Each jibe increased their jubilation

Howls and squeals of demented gloating echoed far into the darkest recesses of the hell in which they stood

No light shone here, no compassion found

No soft voices or forgiveness

Degradation streamed down the walls,

It caked the floor and piled in every corner

Once shackled and completely bound,

They led him further into the Darkness

Past chambers of the lost they paraded Him

To the furthest reaches of Hopelessness

There behind thick dense doors,

They chained Him down, burdened with the World’s Sin

Layer upon layer pinning down this meek Companion of God

Satan roared with the Boast

Him I have ensnared

The World did not hear God’s voice

They did not recognised Messiah

That Hope is dashed now, Shattered, Gone forever

When the last key was turned

The crowd of Dark angels sloped away into dismal shadows

Despair dripped all around

This a world without Light

This a world without God

But then

Something stirred in the darkness,

Something trickled through the cracks

Soft at first, a mere ripple

That grew to a deep throaty gurgled like a stream of living water

It flowed into every dark and dismal ear… Laughter

The Laugh of Victory

The Evil one stopped in his mean tracks

Dread replaced his spiteful joy

He knew that sound, he’d heard it from the beginning of time

This laugh grew in Power and Strength

Each Peal shook those slimy Halls of the Dead

Calling down the Righteousness of God

His Pure Radiance shone

Light flooded the Halls

Banishing darkness

Chains shattered

Walls began to crumple

Heavy doors splintered as Christ the Son of God stepped from the dungeon

He took it all

He walked free

Terror melts in his warmth

Lifting a finger He writes upon the wall

‘Jesus Christ can be found even here

The Way, The Truth and the Life’

The purity of His touch transforms

Never again can any soul be imprisoned beyond His Reach

Satan continues to sell the lie that some are beyond Redemption

Do not believe such falsehood

Christ is Victorious over Death and the Depths of Despair

The Passion of Christ stands as our claim to the Simple Truth

God Loves, Here, Now…

Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2010

My interpretation of events following the Crucifixion and prior to the Resurrection

Apostles Creed

Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 27

Whilst this piece may be a flight of imagination, the final message is Truth.

Diamonds in the Dust

•01/01/2019 • Leave a Comment

WTV 2019

Don’t remember the former things,
    and don’t consider the things of old.
 Behold, I will do a new thing.
    It springs out now.
    Don’t you know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness,
    and rivers in the desert. Is 43:18-19 WEB

As the old year dies and all turns to ashes

I place them into your hand

Oh Lord

I ask you to crush the cinders

The chard remnants of that year

Grind them to dust in those scarred hands

 

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By Your Grace scatter the ashes

To the ends of the Universe

All that is not good

All that will not grow

All that will burden or hinder

All that would destroy or delay

All that would reduce who I am

And who I can become in You

 

Let all that remains

Be Diamonds in the Dust

Scattered remnants that, by Your Promise

Will become something Precious

WTV 2019

Losses and gains

Lessons and memories,

Woundings and scars

Endings

Beginnings

Dragon Slaying

Angels Uplifting

Laughter and tears

Agony and sweet surrender of the soul

Thin places

When I felt you close and closer still

WTV 2019

From the tiny fragments of an old year

Build something Strong, Courageous,

Bountiful in Beauty

Sturdy in Resilience

To be woven into the new

And on into all you have set aside for me

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And so I look to all that is to come

Knowing I only take with me the very best

Of what was

And all that is

In You…

Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford – Buller 2019

 

Salt Pig; This Way or That

•02/05/2018 • 2 Comments

IMG_4370Many, many years ago I bought this Blue Glazed Terracota Salt Pig

From a Roadside potter in Claire SA

There were dozens of them in different sizes, colours

Lined up in rows upon a shelf

Many times I have

Used it, washed it,

Refreshed the salt

It stands in my cluttered kitchen

Working reasonably well

Though when the level drops

The salt is out of reach

And my hand gets stuck reaching for it

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I see them everywhere 

In shops for the home cook

I had wondered about the name

Why Salt Pig?

Was it when cooking pork

The salt brings up the crackling?

A few weeks ago after washing it

I was interrupted

I put it down not so carefully

It rolled over settling amongst  the tea towels

When I returned, suddenly I could see what I had not seen before

On its side now

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The little nubby handle at the top became the piggy nose

The rounded belly held the salt!

Oddly enough it works better this way!

I’m probably telling you something you already know,

But I’d never seen it this way!

It wasn’t ‘sold’ to me that way either

And this is how God teaches me…

Through ordinary everyday things

Seen in a slightly different way

My Salt Pig leaves me pondering

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Why had I passively accepted

The way it was sold to me

What else do I accept in the same way?

Of course, we are not talking about Salt Pigs now!

We are talking about so many things

Beliefs, Ideology, Boundaries…

Self Talk, Identity, Self Image

What have we readily accepted

Because it’s been ‘sold’ to us that way?

What have we been told

That we’ve repeated as Truth

Without really knowing?

Without challenging what do I believe?

Without waiting on God

So through His

His Word

His Grace

His Mercy

His Love

His unconditional Love

So He can show another way of seeing things

Is it time

To start these conversations with God

Listening

Watching

Waiting for

His responses

His quickening

Within You

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Words and pictures ©  Denise Stanford-Buller 2018

 From the Archives: The Salt                                   saltgrns3

Fruits of the Spirit

•07/04/2018 • Leave a Comment

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I have watched

I have waited

I have ached with wanting

I have needed

I have hoped

I have yearned for a sign

I have prayed

I have invited

I have faithfully kept watch

I have devoted

I have asked of God

Where is the Fruit your Spirit brings?

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How many times have I thought

Why have I not developed the Fruit of the Spirit

Promised in the Scriptures?

Why am I still Impatient, or Unkind?

I could use each and every Fruit many times over

More Self Control would be great

Looking for the Joy in every moment

Would be such a blessing

Like a curtain pulled aside

My wise Lord revealed

Onions!

Onions?

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Yes! Onions!

Red onions to be precise, grown in my garden

I was so proud of them.

The few I pulled and used in the kitchen were hot sweet, so fresh

But I left the others too long in the ground

Something I often do

I didn’t lay the tops over to stop them from growing

And they kept on growing – to seed

Like most plants when they run to seed

They became bitter, as protection

So they could not be eaten!

I needed to harvest the onions!

I need to harvest the fruit

I need to harvest the Fruit of the Spirit

I’d always wondered why Paul called it Fruit.

Now  – onions have a season

A time to gather in

Whilst the Fruit of the Spirit is there to be harvested

In the time of need

And like Manna in the Wilderness

Best fresh for the moment

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This is where the messages become familiar

God will do anything, everything

To draw me closer

To have fellowship with me

To work closely with me 

Concerning Fruit of the Spirit He wants me to turn to Him

I need to Define and Declare what fruit I need and…

Ask Him!

DSCN0658As I see it

It’s a Loaves and Fishes kind of thing

He wants me to define the need

Which of the Fruits would enable me in this situation

When I don’t know, I ask that of Him too

Though I often forget to listen and watch for the answers

Then, I Bring what little I have to the table

Asking Him to Bless it

And watch with amazement

When what I  have to offer

Goes further, than I ever thought possible

He and I working together

His Spirit within me providing

And like Manna fresh every day

It Satisfies!

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Love Joy Peace Patience

Kindness Goodness Faithfulness

Gentleness and Self Control

My journal bears the record

The thanks I give Him

Never equal to His Abundant Provision and Grace

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” Gal 5 v22-23

DSCN0912Words Pictures © Denise Stanford-Buller 2018

Praying

•18/10/2017 • 2 Comments

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Heavenly Father

She’s fighting to stay,

She’s not giving up

Just yet

Lay upon her your mantle of Grace

Let her know how close you are

How you feel her pain

How you weep with her

How you will soon ease her burden

That you will cradle her, in your loving arms

To the chariot of fire that will take her Home

 

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And the gaping wound her leaving brings

To us

Heal it with your Love

Fill that yawning emptiness with Wisdom

Beyond our understanding

So much so it spills over

Seeping into our Humanness

Reaching to the spirit deep within

Let it speak Truth to this Mystery

Truth we cannot yet know or understand

Give us enough

Enough to Trust

Expand that Trust Lord

Grow it in us

That we can bring our pain to you

Laying it in your Loving hands

Knowing you will respect it

And use it, to heal our Hope

©Denise Stanford-Buller 2017

Worthwhile

•11/08/2017 • 3 Comments

 

sydney trip 6.08 009It was a lovely photograph.

A selfie taken by a man who clearly adores the woman snuggled close behind him. 

Her face lay against his shoulder, her arms draped around him in restful reassurance.

All who gazed at it felt the warmth of the sun

Could smell the ozone of the changing sea

We smile at their togetherness…

Well, all but one

 

 

The woman looked at her own image and saw only imperfection.

She picked away at what she saw, tearing it down

What she spoke over it wiped away all joy of the moment

Clearly there was relational breakdown here, but not what you might think.

The couple, still very much in Love, is together and happy to be so.

No! The relationship that has broken down is with herself

In criticising herself she curses that which was intended for Blessing

That which God intended for Blessing

I do it

Most of us do it, if not all.

That critical glance in a mirror or shop window

That murmured put down

That self judgement to a standard held so high

That moment when a compliment is replaced by a barb

‘You look lovely’ met with ‘Oh this old thing’

When the reason for  thanksgiving is tossed aside as no such thing.

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Recently I asked my husband if I did anything he didn’t like

His yes came as a shock!

He told me I was

Far too self critical

Far too negative about myself

At first I denied it but he turned a mirror on me that day

He enabled me to recognise

How I Slash or Tear at my Self image

How I curse myself

We prayed

I prayed

I asked God

Show me how this hurts You

I believe He did

In Psalm 139 He shows me how treasured I am

Through Song of Songs how beautiful I am

God loves me as I am

He loves me so much

He put Himself through Hell literally for my sake.

When I attack myself

I deny that Beauty

I deny all the Bounty

I deny all that Love

I hold myself to a Higher Standard than God

What Arrogance!

To call God ‘LIAR!’

When I put myself down

I open the door to the Enemy

I invite Satan in

I give him the weapons

I show him the targets at which to strike

Then I help him

By cursing myself

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He is the thief

He wants me to plunder God’s treasure

He wants me

To deny truth

To believe lies

To live the curse

Doing this

I curse

That which God made for Blessing

Doing this

I curse

That which God set apart  for Himself

 

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In the Old Testament I read

Of the lavish Glory and Beauty built into God’s Temple,

I read of the desecration of that Holy Place

With Lies

Foreign gods

Profane deities

Crude idols to Baal and Asherah

God’s Word says I am the Temple of the Holy Spirit

But so often

I daub those walls with graffiti

With Lies

I am no good

I am nothing

Too fat

Too thin

Too wrinkly

Too old, too grey

Too short, too tall,

I am ugly, disabled, weak, useless…

Hopeless

Worthless

Tell me you’ve never said any of that about yourself

They are lies

All lies

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We need to stop

We need to stop the curses

We need to stop cursing ourselves

No we are not perfect

We are being perfected, in Christ

We are Worthwhile

You are Worthwhile

It is time to

Accept all God has blessed you with

Time to accept

All God has Blessed

With you

sydney trip 6.08 010

Psalm 139

Song of Solomon

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Words and pictures ©  Denise Stanford-Buller 2017

I’m Happy With That!

•21/03/2017 • Leave a Comment

020I stand in the Lamington National Park, Queensland, gazing up at huge Atlantic Beech trees.

They are host to an abundance of epiphyte plants including Strangler Fig vines.

Deeper into the forest we find the filigree shell of a Strangler Fig, standing alone, where once a tree hosting it stood.

Long ago the fig had engulfed the tree.

The tree had died, returned to Dust and had blown away…

That can take a century or more.

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Much later, whilst pondering Psalm 103, I felt inspired by what I had seen in the forest that day.

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Psalm 103

1 Let all that I am praise the Lord;

    with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.

2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;

    may I never forget the good things he does for me.

3 He forgives all my sins

    and heals all my diseases.

4 He redeems me from death

    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

5 He fills my life with good things.

    My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

14  For he knows how weak we are;

    he remembers we are only dust.

15 Our days on earth are like grass;

    like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

16 The wind blows, and we are gone—

    as though we had never been here.

17 But the love of the Lord remains forever

    with those who fear him. Psalm 103 v -1-17 NLT

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My prayer is that with my whole heart, for my whole Life, I would Praise the Lord.

I know I am dust.

In the fulness of time I will wither away and only His Love will remain.

But what He showed me of that Love, that Process was stunning and unexpected…

Version 7

I believe He promises,

Like the filigree of the Fig

surrounding the Beech tree

so my love will enclose you

It will enlarge you

and when the old passes away

all that will remain

is my Love

shaped by who you are

Our journey together

with the infinite detail of my Love

will define you

Version 8

20 Praise the Lord, you angels,

    you mighty ones who carry out his plans,

    listening for each of his commands.

21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels

    who serve him and do his will!

22 Praise the Lord, everything he has created,

    everything in all his kingdom.

Let all that I am praise the Lord. Psalm 103 v 20-22 NLT

Version 6

The thought of just disappearing seems sad to me.

The thought of being memorialised by God’s Love like this?

Well I’d be happy with that!

Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford-Buller  2017

The Year Ahead

•02/01/2017 • 2 Comments

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In the Year ahead may you, yes You, be Blessed in a way that leaves you amazed, wondering at the mysteries of God – in ALL His Glory.

I pray it will be so very special for you; a personal connection that will leave you with a real sense of hope.

God met me in my deepest need; with answers far beyond my expectation – the same awaits you in 2017

I pray you will find plenty of encouragement here, Within the Vine.

Happy & Blessed New Year

iwait10

 Words and Photograph ©Denise Stanford 2017

Free At Last

•11/10/2016 • 1 Comment

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I just saw a lovely pastel sketch of a ‘butterfly’ and woman merged into one mythical creature

The title of the piece declared

Free at last…

We may long to be free of the restrictions being human brings

to feel freedom like the creatures of the air

even on a spiritual level

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But before the caterpillar becomes ‘free’

it must first submit to a kind of death

to a death of familiar

death of safe

death of known

death of its old life

its old ways

its perceived power and control

it must submit to the silence and isolation of the cocoon

it must submit perhaps to the unknown…

It must trust instincts inbred

to find

that right place

that right season

to weave a cocoon in the right way

then

entangling oneself within

remain completely vulnerable

and wait

whilst changes of mammoth significance occur

not once questioning or interrupting the process

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Perhaps if we

Listened for God

in Silence

In Isolation

trusting Him

to provide

the right time

the right space

the right season

to follow where He leads

Obedient to His promptings

Not insisting on

our way

our time

our terms

our conditions

our control

To leave ourselves open to Him

become entangled in His Word

to remain vulnerable to Him

defenceless in the face of

Who He Is

Then perhaps we will find

that prison gate swinging wide

right where we are

And take flight in Praise of Him

He is the Key

to true

Freedom

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford-Buller 2016

Still Within The Vine

•13/09/2016 • 2 Comments

dscn2046I Remain

Within The Vine

I Stand

Upon the Firm Foundation

Of God’s Love

In quiet confidence

In His Faith

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I Know

I Am

Redeemed

By His Grace

Victorious

By His Power

Known

By His love

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I Abide

In His Love

Allowing

No doubts

I Remain

Held firm

Within The Vine

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford-Buller 2016 

Father Song

•15/09/2015 • 1 Comment

Version 3

I step into the early morning air,

It is crisp, clear, the freshness awakens me

The Sun is rising; it spills golden light all around

I see tiny dew drops edging each leaf, soon they will be gone

Seen by my eyes alone but here too I see The Father’s Hand

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Nearby Magpie lifts his head, warbling a purlieu song

That claims all I see as his own.

My tree, my roses, my garden, my abode

My own; he tells the world loud and clear

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Creator God, You Paint the day

You Smile at the treasures I find

You walk with me, You remind me I Am

Your Child, Your Joy

 

Oh how I delight in You, in this Your abiding love

As I lean in close You lean in closer

Breathless I know, I know I am known

You lift Your Head oh God and Sing Your Father song

You claim me as Your own and willingly I stand as Yours

My mind  My soul  My heart  My Love My all

All Your Own

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2015

•21/03/2015 • 3 Comments

 

 

The Wonder Of It All

•24/12/2014 • Leave a Comment

Matthew 18 1-4  The Message

“At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?” For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”

 

 

 

Watch Child faces

Aglow in Candlelight

Awestruck by Christmas

Amazed by the Wonder of it all

Know this

As you smile over them

The Father Smiles over you

As you hope for their delight

The Father Hopes for yours

As you sing that lullaby 

To comfort Child heart

To banish Child fears

So The Father sings His Song over you

Lean in 

Feel the Depth of His Love for you

Be Amazed by the Wonder of it all

Be Awestruck by Christmas

Let your Child Heart Glow 

In the Light of Father’s Love

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Words by Denise Stanford © 2014

Photographs by Denise & James Stanford © 2014

 

With a Passion

•13/04/2014 • 2 Comments

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I love you Lord

With a Passion

Though

Faint shadow

Of Your Passion for me

Hold me close

Do not let me go

Teach me your ways

Leave me an ever-willing pupil

Soft

Open

To Your Rhythms of Grace

Soul

Stay ready to hear

The Heart Whispers

Of Your Lord

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2014

Passion Of Christ   cobbledick crop11

 

 

 

My Heart

•14/01/2014 • Leave a Comment

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Oh my Heart

Decide upon this

Where ever

When ever

Seek the Lord

He will be found

Drawing you into

Deeper Connection

Deeper Knowledge

Deeper Passion

Deeper Relationship

Deeper Lessons

Made easier by Love

Creating Joy

That future Hope

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Oh my Heart

Even in

Dark Despair

He holds you

Gently

Carefully

He draws you close

With

Kindness

Grace

Mercy

Love

Oh my Heart

Seek Him today

With all you have

He will be found

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In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Jeremiah 29 v 12,13 NLT

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2014

Thin Places

•01/01/2014 • 1 Comment

Yesterday’s quiet time verse:

Is 41v10 NLT
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. 
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
 I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Fireworks burst

Watching New Year Fireworks at midnight, alone in a crowd… thinking of my late husband and all that might have been, tears fill my eyes… then that reassuring warmth, like breath upon my cheek, the whisper ‘It will be alright, I promise’… and I just know it will…

This Morning’s Quiet Time verse: Is 43 v19 NLT
For I am about to do something new.
 See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
 I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
 I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

I hope for you all, thin places, where the mystery seeps through and touches you with Grace x x

Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2014

White Christmas

•23/12/2013 • 4 Comments

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It was always going to be difficult

Every little thing

Of this first Christmas

Memories of many

Memory of one

A Trigger

For Happiness

For tears

I could not taint

What was

With what is

I renew

Choosing a White Christmas

Tree

Lights

Ornaments

White

Colour of

Childhood Christmas

Jack Frosted Lace

Icicles

Snow

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White

Shining in the East

Colour of

Mourning

Sorrow

White

For me is

Fresh

Pure

Shining with Hope

A Light in Darkness

Exchanging that Darkness for light

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I hold Hope in my heart

One day I will see him

This man gone

This man I Love

This man I miss

So much

That Hope

Borne of Love

Born at Christmas

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Jesus Christ

God’s own Son

Painful

Yes

Difficult

Yes

Worthwhile

Oh Yes

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I find

I can be happy and sad

I can see the true meaning of Christmas

More clearly through tear misted eyes

I Hope

For Peace

For Joy

For Happiness

Choose to make it so

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Words and pictures © 2013 Denise Stanford

But Not Alone

•05/11/2013 • 1 Comment

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Alone

But not alone

As clouds dance across blue sky

Sunbeams chase shadows

Lizards seek warmth

Pobblebonks call from their pond

Birds busy in the day

The house dogs lead me

Through their garden

I find a rose, almost perfect

Fallen too soon from its bush

Only a few rain-stained petals

To spoil the perfect bloom

I carry it with me

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When I find the bench

I know

Though a stranger to this idyll

It’s where you would sit with me

Together

You and I

As so many times before

In gardens gorgeous

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I place the rose next to me

Sitting there as Peace

Trickles down

In honour of our Love

I stay a while

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Then moving on

Alone

But not alone

I carry still

The Love we grew

The Love that grew us

The Love that yet lives

That perfect bloom

I leave the rose

An offering on the altar

Of what might have been

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2013

Thank you Bungawarrah.

The Journals – Day 31

•05/11/2013 • Leave a Comment

broken1

He is dead

My heart shatters

Into a thousand tiny shards

Each one razor sharp

Cuts to the core

Each breath hurts

Each thought sets my mind spinning

I feel a kind of madness

How can anyone ever survive this?

I weep

Pray

Weep

Read

The Word

I find

A Promise

A Prayer

May God, who puts all things together,
makes all things whole…

Now put you together…

The Message – Hebrews 13 fragments

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And I know

God will

Gradually

Slowly

Purposefully

Piece me back together

He will rebuild

Nothing lost

Love Alive

Providing me

With all I need

To please Him

This is what I want

This is what I choose

This is whom I trust…

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford From The Journals

I Watch, I Wait

•30/09/2013 • 2 Comments

I waitI find myself

Tight

Curled up

Tense

Waiting

Watching

Listening long

for…

A foot fall

A key turn

For that hello

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I watch the clock

Count the days

He should be home by now

That familiar

That smile

Those deep brown eyes

His soft, gentle glance

That knowing

Of all that has passed

And passes between us

And still I wait

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I search the crowds

The usual places

I watch feet

For loping stride

Of aching limb

Head and shoulders above others

That crown of silver

Bestowed with age

Stooping now

With the pain of days

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I see

My heart skips

Yes!

My head murmurs

No

It cannot be

Disappointment bites

Sadness sinks my hope afloat

I am longing for what is no more

What never can be again

I want

All I cannot have

Ignoring

All that is

Overlooking

All I have

For all I have not

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Oh Lord

I am reminded

You say

I am with you

Always

All Ways

I overlook that

Simple

Saturated

Truth

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With a hopeless passion

I cry for my husband gone

Help me to cry for You

With Passion

Renewed

With First Love

Refreshed

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I listen for the man

Help me to listen for You

In Gentle whispers

In Your tender Word

I watch for the man

Enable me to see you Lord

Through all Your signs

Through all Your wonders

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I wait for the man

Give me Patience to wait

For You Lord

For Your Time

In the night

I cry for him

I long for his arms

Enfolding me

His hands holding mine

087

But he is gone

You are here Lord

Let my Soul find her rest in You

Find her comfort in Your embrace

Find safe shelter beneath your wings

For in You Lord

The man and I remain One

He in Glory with You

Me on earth

With more to do

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What if

One day I turned

To find You gone

How much more would my soul lament

How much more would I cry

For You

Emmanuel

Lover of my soul

Always

All ways

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Help me

To Love

To Honour

To Cherish

To Obey

You my Lord

My King

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2013

Holding On

•03/08/2013 • 3 Comments

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My world now

A whirlpool of emotions

Mostly low and lower

Finding a breathing space

Shocks me

It is dark

The day has been

Intense

Tomorrow promises

More of the same

Before bedtime

Friend comes

With tears in her eyes

Love in her heart

Born of Friendship

Born of God’s Lovefeldspar2

She places gently

Into my hand

A small bag

Silky soft

But heavy with its burden

Like my heart

‘Something for you to hold onto’

She says

Within is a stone

Solid

Sure

Of Beauty

Of the Earth

She holds me

She prays for me

She disappears into the night

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That Day we held

The Dust of his body

We thanked

We prayed

Before letting go

An Earthen vessel gone

Returned to the Earth

From whence it came

His Soul returned to God

From whence it came

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All that remains

His love

His stories

His laughter

His special ways

His uniqueness

Our memories

The pebble sits

Comfortable in my hand

Reassuringly solid

I will learn to allow

Those memories to

Sit comfortable in my heart

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The rock

Something of the Earth

A dull grey green

Feldspar – Laboradorite

But

With illumination

There is play within

Light Returning colours

Making a gem of it

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I do hold on

Solid Assurance

All is not lost

Just Changed

I hold memories

I hold joys

I hold sadnesses

I hold experiences

As couple

Become part of who I am

Now as one

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And

God Holds me

Nestled safe

In the palm of His hand

With Illumination

There will be play within

His Light returning colours

Making Gems

Of us all…

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Words, Photographs and Painting © Denise Stanford 2013

From the Archives:

True Diamonds    cobwb9

My Surrender

•23/07/2013 • 3 Comments

evening tide1

I try

I try so hard

To hold back the waves

Huge

Icy

Grey

Dumpers

Hitting me

Hard and harder

Expected

Unexpected

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They surge over me

Knocking me to my knees

Threatening

To overwhelm

To drown

Taking my breathe

Deadening all warmth

Numbing all joy

Paralysing all hope

I cannot see

I cannot hear

Above this relentless roar

This endless pounding

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King Cnut sat 

Upon his worldly throne

Intent upon stemming the tide

Daring it to touch his royal person

He failed

Declaring

Only God

Creator of Tides

Commands

Laws Eternal

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I also fail

To stem the Grief

The panic

The pain

Though I strive to prevent them

Waves of

Regret

Sadness

Solitude

Heartache

Raw Panic

And Longing

Hit me hard

The enemy hits me deep

And deeper still

I cannot stem this onslaught

It must happen

I have loved

I have lost

This then is the cost

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Holy Spirit whispers

Bringing something to mind

So in Submission

I cross my hands upon my breast

Closing my eyes

I lean back into the arms of my Lord

Like the Supplicant come to the Baptist

I lean into Him

I rest upon Him

I give myself to the experience

He will support me

He will not let me go

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As the waters rush over me

I am submerged

Drenched by the experience

I give each icy surge to Him

For His measure

For His answer

For Him to order

As I name each sorrow

He asks, Do you give all to me?

I reply

Yes

Yes Lord

All…

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And I weep unashamed

My tears adding to the salty tide

And I sorrow from a heart full of Love

For my husband

For what might have been

And I rejoice in the Blessings of Marriage long

Though parted by death

We are joined in the Father

Closer and Closer yet

I can rest in His arms….

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Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2013

My Vow

•11/07/2013 • 3 Comments

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It was 40  years ago

I took him as Husband

We Loved

We Comforted

We Honoured

And protected each other

We forsook all others

Faithfully

Contentedly

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He took me as Wife

We had

We held

Through Better

Through Worse

Richer

Poorer

Healthy

Sick

And everything in between

troth3We Loved

We Cherished

We Respected

We Grew

We Aged

We Laughed

We Cried

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And still I cry

But now

I cry alone

For death came and parted us

Suddenly

Silently

Vows made before God

Were supposed to end

There and Then

But right now

My Head

My Heart

Do not know how to stop

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Words and Pictures  © Denise Stanford 2013

 

Say Now I Love You

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