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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 21:52

We had European visitors this week.

Large expanses of our fields were mowed earlier in the week. If Texas heat records hold this year, it will likely be the last time we have to mow the fields before fall. Mowing always attracts the seed and insect eaters. Last year, a flock of male great-tailed grackles took up residence for a few days, much to the chagrin of the scissor-tails and the mockingbirds.

This year a small flock of European Starlings showed up to indulge. 

I believe this is a juvenile.

Bambi is growing up fast.

He's interested in meeting our European visitors, too!

This isn't the best picture but I thought the image of the bee was fun. It's so good to see more of them coming around this year.

I don't know if this is my juvenile from last month, now in full plumage, or if it's another [adullt] male. Either way, I was thrilled to see this Summer Tanager! I wish I could have gotten a clear picture of him for you. This was taken through my window.

I've spotted a greenish-hued bird a couple of times in the last week but haven't yet captured her on film. I think she is a painted bunting. Hoping to have time this weekend to sit and observe!

It's hard to believe June begins next week! We've been blessed with cooler temps late into May this year. June is my favorite month and, although it's going to be busy, I intend to savor each and every day!

Are you ready for summer?

Have a wonder-filled week!

Sharing inspiration here:
Nature Notes, Through My LensBird D’pot,
Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens,
Wild Bird WednesdayOur World Tuesday,
Community Global, Photo Friday, Little Things Thursday

Monday, May 22, 2017

You've probably heard one or more variation of the following story:

   A young woman is preparing a pot roast while her friend looks on. She cuts off both ends of the roast, prepares it and puts it in the pan. “Why do you cut off the ends?” her friend asks. “I don’t know,” she replies. “My mother always did it that way and I learned how to cook it from her.”
   Her friend’s question made her curious about her pot roast preparation. During her next visit home, she asked her mother, “How do you cook a pot roast?” Her mother proceeded to explain and added, “You cut off both ends, prepare it and put it in the pot and then in the oven.” “Why do you cut off the ends?” the daughter asked. Baffled, the mother offered, “That’s how my mother did it and I learned it from her!
   Her daughter’s inquiry made the mother think more about the pot roast preparation. When she next visited her mother in the nursing home, she asked, “Mom, how do you cook a pot roast?” The mother slowly answered, thinking between sentences. “Well, you prepare it with spices, cut off both ends and put it in the pot.” The mother asked, “But why do you cut off the ends?” The grandmother’s eyes sparkled as she remembered. “Well, the roasts were always bigger than the pot that we had back then. I had to cut off the ends to fit it into the pot!”
Do you ever think about why we do the things we do? What motivates and influences our actions and responses?

Certainly, there are many things that influence our actions and responses. Some things we've learned from our parents, as shown in the above story. Those with whom we spend our time, our culture, abuses, work experiences, all these things contribute to how we think and, ultimately, how we act.

Is it important to know and understand why we do the things we do? It is if we believe Proverbs 4:23.
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. (Pro 4:23)
So what is the major influence in your life? Jerry Bridges, in his book The Discipline of Grace says, "There is no neutral sphere of influence. We are being influenced by the forces of sinful society or we are being influenced by the Word of God." [click to tweet]

Most of us fall somewhere in between these two points of influence. Your attitude toward the word of God and how often you read and study the word will determine how close you are to one point or the other.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. (Psa 1:1-2)
Let's assume our major influences have been good. We were taught as children to do good. Perhaps we even follow the moral code of the Bible. But what is our motivation to do good? Is it simply a habitual response to our influencers or a desire for the good opinion of others?

When we fail, are we distressed because we have dishonored God or is our response one of pride because our self-esteem is lowered in the sights of others? [click to tweet]

So what is the motivation behind our actions? Are we committed to a set of moral values or are we committed to God? George MacDonald suggests the following,
"Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because He said, Do it, or once abstained because He said, Do not do it. It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in Him, if you do not anything He tells you."
We won't seek to please God with our actions or be aggrieved when we fail Him if we don't relate to Him as our heavenly Father. [click to tweet]

The apostle Paul urges us toward a commitment to God and holiness.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Rom 12:1)

If this commitment to pursuing holiness seems overwhelming to you, remember, "A soldier unresolved to fight may be easily defeated."Remember, too, that God does not only ask us for this commitment, He provides us with the grace which enables us to do it.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb 13:20-21)

Taking a hard look at what motivates our actions gives us an honest perspective on where we are in our pursuit of holiness. Wherever you may find yourself, do not be discouraged. The pursuit of holiness is a life-long journey that is never fully realized this side of heaven.

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Php 1:6)

1. Commentary by Stephen Charnock

Sharing inspiration here:
Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Faith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, RaRa Link Up, Intentional Tuesday,
#WordswithWinter, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays,
Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,
Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,
#GiveMeGrace, Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments, Heart Encouragement

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 20:52

This past Saturday was Global Big Day! Similar to the Great Backyard Bird Count, which took place in February, Global Big Day is aimed at collecting data for worldwide conservation efforts.

I spent about four hours observing from my porch and nearby fields and was able to record sixteen species. Including one that was a new bird for me!

These pictures aren't the greatest, as I was shooting mainly for recording / identifying purposes and, in some cases, from a very long distance (125+ feet). Despite the quality, I wanted to share with you some of my sightings.

Carolina Chicadee

Lesser Goldfinch (female)

House Finch (male)

White-winged Dove

Northern Mockingbird

Gold-fronted Woodpecker (male)

Eastern Phoebe

Scissor-tail Flycatcher

Follow the tail and you'll see the head of the second bird on the nest.

New bird for me! Dickcissal

Vermillion Flycatcher (male)

Species recorded but not pictured include: Woodhouse Jay, Northern Cardinal, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Black-crested Titmouse, Red-tailed Hawk, Carolina Wren

Did you participate in Global Big Day? If so, please share in the comments.

And now a bonus for those of you still with me. Yesterday morning I spotted this brown blob about forty feet in front of the cottage. I watched it for a bit but there was no movement, so I thought it was just debris blown in by the wind. 

Imagine my delight . . .

Breakfast with Bambi. How fun!

What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Have a wonder-filled week,

Sharing inspiration here:
Nature Notes, Through My LensBird D’pot,
Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens,
Wild Bird WednesdayOur World Tuesday,
Community Global, Photo Friday, Little Things Thursday