What is Your Bliss?



“What’s your bliss?”  That’s the question on this fourth day of the WordPress photo course, Photo101.

How does one define bliss?  The dictionary says it is complete happiness, great joy, paradise or heaven.

My bliss is . . .

I thought of chocolate, of being with all my family, or visiting with a dear friend I haven’t seen in years.  A glass of cold sweet ice tea on a  hot, humid summer day even crossed my mind.  All of these bring me happiness, but, sometimes the chocolate is melted.  Family members are tired or cranky or sick. My friend cancelled her plans to see me due to a family emergency.  The caffeine in the sweet ice tea kept me awake later at night than I planned.  Life happens.

There is a place I go that always makes me completely happy.  As soon as I enter, I feel my body relax.  My worries disappear.  Like a kid in a candy store, I want one, two, or three of everything I see!  The beauty here feeds my soul.  In this enchanted place I am surrounded with so many colors and ideas my heart can barely contain it all.  How will I ever narrow down my choices?  Each time I experience awe, because I am enveloped by the colorful, detailed and exotic canvas of God’s artistry.

What is this place?  It is a local, family owned, plant nursery that has thrived in my area for decades.  Whatever plants I purchase here I know will survive in my climate, not one 300 miles north of me.

This love of plants is part of my DNA.  It was passed down to me from my dad who loved to grow food to eat and my mother who never met a flower she didn’t like or want to grow.  My brother and sister also inherited the same plant loving genes.  Every conversation we share always includes at least a snippet about what each of us is growing in our yard.

My bliss?  A visit to the local plant nursery.  My website, http://www.stephaniehalstead.com will confirm how much I love flowers.  Thanks for taking “A Second Look.”


Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!Happy Easter?  In the midst of seeing my mother die?

A friend wrote to me yesterday, “Grief is a hard place to be.”  It is.  It most definitely is.

Sometimes grief grabs you at the least unexpected moment.  A word, a smell, a memory, even kind words from someone can trigger tears.  Yet, those same things can trigger a smile, too.

Letting go is hard. Seeing one you love so much continue to suffer is hard, too.

Happy  Easter?  Yes!  Why?  Because as we watch her earthly body continue to decline, we have the hope of seeing her again one day in heaven.

That is what is so special about Easter.  Although Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was crucified, He rose from the dead three days later.  He conquered death.  The reality is especially sweet now as my sister and I care for our mom as she transitions from this world to the next.

Easter is the promise of hope.  Heaven is real, because Jesus victory over death is real.




Two a.m. friends, friends in crises, photo of pocket watch When life is in crises mode, this is the friend that will answer the phone or respond to your text message, no matter what time of day or night.  “Two A.M. friends” are priceless!

The pocket watch belonged to my husband’s great grandfather.  The background is actually a piece of scrapbook paper.  Flowers came from my back yard.  Just having fun making an image for one of my two a.m. friends.  Just having fun making an image that invites you to take a second look.


Be Still

Be Still, cally lily, water drop on flowerWhen moving your head causes nausea, the phrase, “be still” becomes very personal.  Today, I am thankful that although still struggling with other aspects of a virus, the nausea is gone.

The phrase “be still” from Psalm 46:10 can also be translated “cease striving”.  Life has been so full, some of it very stressful.

I do not enjoy being sick.  At the same time, it is somewhat of a relief to have to let go of all that has been on my mind, in my heart, and just let God be god.  Let go and put all of it in His capable, loving, and strong hands.


Favorite Love Story

Our-Love-StoryForget the Hallmark movies.

Listen to others in your life tell their story of love.

Enjoy the smiles on the faces of those in love.

Celebrate with the bride and groom who just got married!

Celebrate with the bride and groom who have been married for many years!

My favorite love story?

Mine of course!

I bet yours is your favorite, too.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


One My Soul Loves

"One my Soul Loves".  Silver cup with red roses.  Red roses on black background.  My husband and I are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this week.  Thirty-five years.  They have gone quickly! 

I have always enjoyed fresh cut flowers.  He gave me roses on our first date.  If I had not already been smitten with him, that would have made me take a second look!  Reality was that I was attracted to him the moment I saw him.

Many dozens of roses later, he is still the one whom my soul loves.  Tonight he gave me, yes, you guessed correctly . . . he gave me roses.