Psalm for a New Year

Happy New Year!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Each year, I like to choose a Psalm to memorize and meditate upon throughout the year.  This year I've chosen my Dad's favorite Psalm, which he often read aloud at family meals and gatherings.  

It is so easy to get bogged down and discouraged by the things of the world and forget our real purpose here on earth ~ which is to give Glory to God.  Psalm 100 is a wonderful reminder to praise and glorify God and to live joyfully!  

 For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

Isaiah 55:12

May you find abundant
Blessings of Peace and Joy  
in the coming year!  

Looking Back ~ 2013

It's time once again to look back over the past year.  2013 was a year of adjustment for me ~ getting used to being back in Colorado, in a new home and with a new job ~ a year of adjusting and finding new normals.

I did less handwork in 2013 than I think I've ever done.  Not one completed knitting project, only one small crochet project completed and one crazy quilted pincushion.

2013 Artwork Lisa P. Boni
Instead of handwork, I focused more on painting!  Some watercolor sketches, but mostly oil paintings!  I'm so glad to be painting again, but after looking back over the year, I find I really miss the handwork, so need to incorporate a bit more in the coming year, while continuing to paint.  

I managed a few trips, which included: five days Boston and Cape Cod during super-storm Nemo, five days in the Tetons, a week in South Dakota with my Aunts and Uncles, shorter trips to New Mexico,  Rocky Mountain National Park and the Indian Peaks area in Colorado.  All the trips were lovely!  

2013 Flora
The camera goes with me everywhere and as always, some of my favorite photos of the year are of flowers and plants!  What fun it was to discover all the new things growing in our yard this year and to observe the seasons of Colorado once again!

2013 Birds
Another thing I loved this year was watching the birds and taking photos of them.  My mother was a terrific birder and took many wonderful photos over the years.  It's nice to have that connection.

2013 Best Photos
Every year, I find that certain photos become my favorites.  These are a few from 2013 that I'm especially pleased with.

2013 Accomplishments
Looking back, it doesn't really seem like I accomplished all that much this year, at least not in things that are easy to share via photographs.  So here are a few of the things that took much of my free time this year.  Finishing the kitchen remodel!  Creating Blurb books about my travels in 2012 and putting several years of my blog into Blurb books as well.  Organizing the family archives of photos/slides and genealogy.  Starting and making huge progress scanning slides.  (Between scanning slides and making Blurb books, I think I spent the majority of my time in front of the computer, often with both the laptop and desktop computers running simultaneously as well as the scanner and a bank of external hard drives to keep all the information organized!)  Taking my first ever Plein Air Oil Painting Workshop!  I also started my nursing job in Denver, worked on many small but necessary projects around the house and yard and continued to work toward downsizing the vast quantity of possessions we have ~ that never seem to dwindle despite my best efforts!  So, while I don't have a huge amount to show for it, lots DID get accomplished!  

 Now it's time to turn my attention to the New Year, to revisit goals and make some new ones.  But that is best left for another post!


After Christmas...

Heavenly Hyacinths
The hyacinths that my sister sent me for Christmas are blooming and filling the house with a wonderful fragrance!  Blooming bulbs in the middle of winter just make my heart sing!  Thank you Holly! 

Mollie's Christmas Crown
The Christmas festivities are over and done for another year.  Ours was spread out over a week as our work schedules made it difficult to celebrate on the day.  Mollie Kitty wore a Christmas bow like a crown for part of Christmas Day!  She is one of the joys of my daily life!  

Christmas Tool Box!
Most of my gifts were of the practical variety this year!  Some fireplace tools and a nice wood holder for the fireplace and this big red tool chest to help get me organized in the garage!  My sister also sent me a lovely box of little gifts ~ bits of soap, candies, and other little things.  Our mother did this every year ~ we always had quite a little stack of tiny "stocking" gifts to open.  Though they were rarely fancy or expensive, somehow they were always the most fun to open!  What a treat from my sister who thought to continue the tradition!  

I hope that you all had a lovely holiday!  It's hard to believe that the year is almost over and it's time to start looking forward to the new year!   Blessings and peace to all! 


Christmas Mediation ~ The Nativity

Joy and the Nativity


Nativity simply means "birth", so when we say Nativity scene, we are speaking of a birth scene.  As you may know, "Birth" has been my primary career for over 30 years, first as a doula (someone who provides labor support to the birthing mother), a childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting educator, and now as Mom/Baby nurse and lactation consultant.  With much first hand knowledge of "birth scenes", I have to smile at the overly sweet and calm depictions of Jesus Birth Scenes, which are prevalent at this time of year.  And yes, I too have several of them in my home.  

When I think of a birth scene, I see a mother, sweaty, working incredibly hard, making noises and faces that no woman wants to be made public.  I see tears of anxiety, of fear, of anticipation, of joy.  I see women who want to give up and others who find strength to rise up and birth with a power they never knew existed before.  I see fathers, anxious, wanting to help but not knowing how.  

And that moment of birth ~ the primal nature of it.  Sweat, fluid, blood.  The triumphal yell (or grunt as it may be) from the mother as the newborn babe enters the world.  The sudden quiet while everyone waits for the baby to make a sound, to know that all is ok.  The audible sigh of relief when the first cry comes.  How a mother reaches out for her baby to bring it to her, where it belongs, nestled close between her breasts.  The father who embraces mother and child ~ awestruck and overwhelmed by the power it took to bring this new life into the world, the overwhelming love felt for mother and child. 

For me, this is the Nativity, the real birth scene.


After the birth, mother and father settle in and begin getting to know their newborn.  Tentatively touching at first, then stroking, then holding close.  The newborn nestles into mother's chest and begins to nurse.  The first couple of hours are spent in this sweet phase of introduction to one another.  The new family is born. 

Tiny Nativity

Then the newborn becomes sleepy. The newborn is cleaned and dressed, wrapped snuggly in a blanket.  The new mother is tired too after the long hard work of birthing this new little one.  Mother and child often find their way to sleep at this time.  The newborn snugged down in a bassinet as close to the mother as she can get it, while she naps, though she wakens at the slightest newborn sound.  

Nativity Ornament

The hospital where I work cares for very high risk pregnancies and births, so I see many families who are out of their normal environment, many of who have had to unexpectedly travel long distances in order to give birth.  They are anxious, fearful, wondering how they will manage the logistics of being far from family and friends.

Now translate that to the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.  Did he come into the world in an easy delivery?  Did he come into the world with sweat and tears and not a small amount of anxiety?  I'm inclined to believe the latter, as nowhere in scripture do we find that Jesus led an "easy" life on earth.  It is easy to imagine the young couple, Mary and Joseph, anxious at the situation in which they find themselves, in a strange town, far from home, and with no place to stay.  With the labor pains growing, getting more and more uncomfortable for Mary, Joseph getting more and more anxious about where they will end up.  

Olive Wood Nativity from Israel

Once a place was found in which to give birth, whether it was a shed, a cave, a barn or a small rented room somewhere ~ we don't really know.  We do know that Jesus was laid in a manger ~ the closest thing to a baby bed that they could find.  I'm sure that Mary, exhausted, slept curled beside that manger where she could respond to the slightest sound of the newborn Jesus.  

And then, as this new family, exhausted from birth, yet riding high on the excitement of it ~ visitors arrived.  Strangers.  Grubby shepherds from out in the fields.  With their flocks of sheep probably near at hand.  Come to see this amazing newborn.  I can imagine the consternation that Mary and Joseph must have felt at these strangers knowing about this miraculous birth and coming to see the newborn Jesus.  How protective she must have felt, yet proud and happy at the same time.  

Marble Nativity

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.  And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them,  "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to tall the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." and the they went with haste, and found Mary and joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 
Luke 2: 4-20

May you have a Blessed Christmas Eve 
filled with the wonder of the Nativity of Jesus!  


Christmas Meditation ~ Doves

Little Dove


Doves have long been held as a symbol of peace in our world.  The dove is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit. 

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."
Luke 3:21-22


As symbols of peace, doves can remind us of the angel's message when they came to tell the shepherds of the Messiah's birth.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"
Luke 2:13-14

Wooden Dove

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13


Christmas Mediation ~ Bells

Glittered Bell #3


Before the coming of Jesus, no one could enter the presence of God except those appointed to the priesthood.  Entering the presence of God resulted in death.  But with the establishment of the priesthood of Aaron, the priest could enter the presence of God wearing special garments embroidered with pomegranates and decorated with bells, which signified their appointment and privilege and also prevented their death.

And you shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue.  It shall have in it an opening for the head, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a garment, that it may not be torn.  On its' skirts you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet stuff, around its skirts, with bells of gold between them, a golden bell and pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, round about on the skirts of the robe.  And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord, and when he comes out, lest he die. 
Exodus 28:31-35

Silver Bell

With the advent of Jesus the Christ, He became our priest and we no longer need a priest to approach our God for us in the holy place.  

And it was not without an oath.  Those who formerly became priest took their office without an oath, but this one was addressed with an oath,
"The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
'Thou art a priest for ever.'"
This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant.
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever.  Consequently, he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession of the them. 

For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens.  He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself.   Indeed, the law appoints men in the weakness as high priests, but the work of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.  
Hebrews 7:20-28

Glittered Bell #2

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 
Hebrews 10:19-23

The bells remind us of the eternal priesthood of Christ Jesus that allows us to know God personally.  

Glittered Bell #1

In more recent times, bell have been used to announce births, deaths, marriages or other matters of great importance.  They have been used to call people to church for worship.  Bells can be a symbol of celebration at the birth of Christ.

Beaded Bell
Throughout history, shepherds have put bells on their flocks as a way of keeping track of them.  The bells alert them to where the sheep are and help them find them when they are lost.  

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way
Isaiah 53:6a

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
1 Peter 2:25

Bells can remind us that Jesus is our Shepherd, that he knows us, guides us and guards us and searches us out when we are lost.  

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
  He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
  he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
  for his name's sake.  

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (or the valley of deep darkness)
  I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
  your rod and your staff,
  they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
  in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil,
  my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
  all the days of my life;
  and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. 
Psalm 23