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Monday, November 30, 2015

Inspired by . . . a month in photos: November

 

November? what? where?

Gone.

Yup.

That was November.

{I think the elves were conspiring against the turkeys . . . or something}

 

NOV_Collage

 

My images are not nearly as November-ish as the lovely Mona’s. Please click over and give her some love. You won’t be sorry.

 

Favorite photo:

Queen_yellowFlower

 

Favorite quote:

 

To live content with small means;

to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable, wealthy, not rich;
to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart;
to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently,
await occasions, hurry never;
in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,

grow up through the common-
this is my symphony.    

~ William Henry Channing

 

May it be our guide into this season of Advent . . .

 

When you look back at November,

what do you see?

Blessings,

Blog_Signature

 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Inspired by . . . Advent: the Word became flesh

 

 

WordMadeFlesh

 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Joh 1:14

Advent: arrival

The season of Advent, the four weeks preceding Christmas, celebrates our anticipation of Christ’s arrival into the world!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

After sharing 31 days of Praying the Names and Attributes of God with you in October, I’m thrilled to begin this season of Advent focusing on five beloved names of our Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah gave Him five names that continue to inspire and fill us with hope today.

Wonderful - The people wondered at the many miracles performed by Jesus. Luke 11:14

Counselor - Jesus spoke with authority. No one had ever spoken the way He did. John 7:46

Mighty God - Jesus said that He and the Father are one. John 10:30

Everlasting Father - Jesus is the designer and creator of the universe. John 1:3; Heb 11:3

Prince of Peace - There is no peace apart from Jesus, the peace that He made by the blood of the cross. Col 1:20

The full meaning of these five names from Isaiah should give us hope when enduring sorrow, strength against temptation and JOY in the face of trials.

Let’s take time this week to ponder how Jesus has been all of these names to us.

Blessings,

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Sharing inspiration here:

Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,

Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,

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, Still Saturday

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Inspired by . . . Grateful Series IV: Every Blessing Turned to Praise

So I will bless You as long as I live; in Your name I will lift up my hands. Psa 63:4

Being able to praise God in both trial and blessing is evidence of a grateful heart.

In moments of difficulty, when He is all we have, hopefully we come to realize that He is all we need.

Failure to give praise can open the door to pride and feelings of entitlement. We can start thinking that we deserve, or have earned our blessings on our own merit.

This is a dangerous path, my friend.

Instead, when we give praise to God, and acknowledge Him as the Giver of all good gifts, we open the door wide for Him to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Eph 3:20-21


 

Pumpkins

 

Wishing you and your

family a blessed Thanksgiving!

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Sharing inspiration here:

Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,

Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,

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, Still Saturday

Monday, November 23, 2015

Inspired by . . . serial novels

Hello, friends, Jonathan Graham here, stepping in for June today.

It seems it happens every year, the holidays are upon us before we’ve fully recovered from summer. Pilgrims and pumpkins are whisked off the shelves, replaced with Rudolph the reindeer and laughing Santas before we’ve even had the chance to honor the meaning of the moment.

My thoughts always turn to Dickens this time of year. I’ve watched A Christmas Carol every year since as long as I can remember. And every time I see it, I’m encouraged to honor the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.

 

 

Poinsettia

 

Those of you familiar with Dickens probably know that every one of his novels was published serially--that is, the novels appeared not all at once, but in parts or installments, over a space of time. There were various reasons for this, one of them being that the cost to purchase a complete novel was well above what most people could afford in those days, while each installment cost only a shilling. Much as changed in the literary world over the last 150  years.

With the invention of electronic readers the cost of the texts has gone down, and with it the need for large spaces in which to house the books that fulfill {some of} our insatiable appetite for the written word. Personally, there are still some texts that I want, no need, to hold in my hands and smell the ink, but I also have a vast electronic library that continues to grow.

There is no shortage of books, even good books. What I find to be in short supply of, as I’m sure most of you do as well . . .

. . . is time.

It is with all this in mind that we have decided to release June’s next book as a serial novel.

No Tomorrow will be released in six, time-manageable installments, over the course of the next four to six months. The first installment is available now for pre-order , and releases this Sunday! Just in time to wrap up your holiday weekend with cup of tea and a new book!

 

NT_Cover_ActI

 

 With Thanksgiving upon us, June and I are counting our blessings. I know I speak for her when I say, one of our biggest blessings is all of YOU!  Your readership and support is of great encouragement and inspiration.

Thank you!

Jonathan

 

 

 

Sharing inspiration here:

Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,

Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,

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, Still Saturday

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Inspired by . . . as the deer

 

 

Doe_MorningLight

 

As the deer panteth for the water

So my soul longeth after Thee

You alone are my heart's desire

And I long to worship Thee

 

You alone are my strength, my shield

To You alone may my spirit yield

You alone are my heart's desire

And I long to worship Thee

 

You're my friend and You are my brother

Even though You are a king

I love You more than any other

So much more than anything

 

You alone are my strength, my shield

To You alone may my spirit yield

You alone are my heart's desire

And I long to worship Thee

 

I want You more than gold or silver

Only You can satisfy

You alone are the real joy giver

And the apple of my eye

 

In the stillness,

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Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Friday, November 20, 2015

Inspired by . . . Grateful Series III: “more please!”

 

I’ve been pondering how often I receive a blessing from God, thank Him for it, and then immediately move on wondering, what’s next?

Like the child who says “thank you” out of obedience and then immediately asks “more please.”

Always looking to the next or bigger blessing reveals a dissatisfied spirit.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Php 4:11-13

Certainly I can be grateful without always being content, but for my gratitude to be truly pleasing to God, I believe it should walk hand-in-hand with a spirit of contentment.

A grateful perspective realizes God gave us the good we have, responds with praise, and then believes His good is enough.

Cultivating a spirit of gratitude laced with contentment is as easy as looking at your life.

Every day, take time to look around you and thank God for what you see.

But don’t stop there . . .

 

RedLeaf_purple

 

. . . tell Him it’s enough.

 

Blessings,

Blog_Signature

 

 

 

*Thoughts inspired by the I’m Grateful reading plan at Bible.com

 

Sharing inspiration here:

Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,

Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,

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, Still Saturday

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Inspired by . . . brown-eyed visitors

They eat my blooms and knock over the birdbath, yet they have a gentleness and grace that quiets my irritation.

They have a light in their eye that touches my soul. And I know I would have to be suffering a great hunger before being willing to snuff it out.

 

Two_Deer

 

They came this day to quench their thirst.

The earth, after drinking in nearly a year’s worth of rain one weekend in May, was once again dry and cracked. The summer had dragged on . . . cloudless.

 

Doe_MorningLight

 

It’s been a year of feast or famine.

Highs and lows.

Mountain tops and valleys.

My spiritual life is like that sometimes. One moment a bubbling brook of Living water, resting in calm, deep pools of faith. Or running merrily over jagged rocks without a care. Then, suddenly, the riverbed is dry and cracked. I find myself tired and weary, wondering where God is in this barren wilderness.

If I’m honest, I’ll tell you the riverbed didn’t dry up overnight. It happened gradually, just as the moisture moves deep within the earth to fill it’s cavernous depths. It happened as I put one more thing ahead of time with Him, time in His word, time in worship and in prayer.

 

Doe_drinking

 

The deer know when they can’t find water anywhere else, they’ll find my birdbath full. It’s a risk, they have to come near the house to take a drink. But the water quenches their raging thirst.

In the same way, I know that Jesus is the Living water. Only by abiding in Him will I have life. Drawing near to God has its own risks. God accepts us as we are, but He doesn’t leave us that way. When we come into His presence we are changed. Change can hurt. But the kind of change that God brings births freedom, and peace.

The deer come in the early morning light to drink, just as I should come each morning to Him.

The deer will be thirsty again.

In fact, this big guy visited me this morning.

 

White-tailed_Buck_8pt

 

But Jesus promised that when we drink of Him, our thirst will be eternally quenched.

In Him we are satisfied. The deep pools of our soul’s deepest longings are filled, and our faith once again bubbles merrily along the way.

 

Doe_water_droplets

 

Shalom,

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Sharing inspiration here:

Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,

Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,

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, Still Saturday

 

Nature Notes, Sweet Shot Tuesday, Through My Lens, Little Things Thursdays,

 Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens,

Our World Tuesday, Community Global

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Inspired by . . . solidarité

 

 

WaterLily

 

Shine Lord into the shadows of this world
and by the light of Your people dispel the darkness
that this world might glimpse Your grace
and seeing it might understand the difference.

©John Birch

 

 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psa 34:18

 

Praying for Paris,

Blog_Signature

 

#prayforparis

 

Read more at: http://www.faithandworship.com/prayers_peace.htm#ixzz3rUQU8SPa
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Inspired by . . . Grateful Series II: Good Gifts

 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Jas 1:17

Do these words seem familiar to you? That may be because they are also in my blog header. This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. I love it’s poetic nature. I love what it says about our Lord, the Father of light, Who does not change. He is the Giver of good and perfect gifts. So many wonderful, inspiring Truths in this one passage!

Do you believe that God gives good and perfect gifts?

Do you believe that every good thing is from God?

 

WaterSplash_DreamLightOverlay

 

There is an important distinction here, because I think that sometimes we can fall into the trap of believing that WE are producing some of the good things in our lives.

Only God has the power to create. He is the Author of every good thing that exists.

Not even the enemy can create things, he can only pervert what God has made.

As the Father of lights, He gives the gift of reason.

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. Job 32:8

He gives the gift of learning.  All of Solomon’s wisdom, the art of government, science, and knowledge of nature was ascribed to God. And so it is with what we know and discover, the advancements we make in our world today.

He gives the gift of divine revelation. Compassion, faith, purity, sympathy all these are bestowed upon us by God. And it is by the renewing influence of divine grace within us that we have the ability to be {the noun turned verb} these things to others.

Do you believe that God gives good and perfect gifts?

Do you believe that every good thing is from God?

 

Leaves_DreamLightOverlay

 

One way to answer these questions is to look at our words and actions. Is it obvious to others that I see God as the ultimate Provider of the good in my life?

Making a conscious effort to acknowledge God as the Source of our good makes us more grateful. It also makes us less anxious, more generous to others and less friendly to pride.

Not only should we thank God for the good gifts He gives, but we should thank Him for HIM!

 

God, Himself is Good, and worthy to be praised!

 

Blessings,

Blog_Signature


 

Sharing inspiration here:

Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,

Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,

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, Still Saturday, #write31days

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Inspired by . . . what birds see

A clear, distinct, yet foreign call rang over our tiny acreage one day in late September. After several delighted moments watching a smallish, russet colored bird with a fairly large wingspan, put on an aerial show over the fields in front of our cottage, I powered up the computer and learned that North America’s littlest falcon had arrived!

There is no difficulty in ID-ing this beautiful bird. The “mustache” and “side-burn” pattern on their face is unique. Their flight, graceful and sure. If you are ever blessed with sighting an American Kestrel, you will know immediately what you’ve seen. If you’re an avid sports fan you’ve likely seen them at night games, hunting under the lights. They can be seen year-round over much of the United States.

 

Kestrel_Male_Front

 

Unlike humans, the American Kestrel {like all birds} can see ultraviolet light. This allows the Kestrel to see, among other things, the trails of urine left by voles and other small rodents. I guess we have enough of a population here to keep him fed since he’s still around over a month later.

 

American_Kestral_Male

 

It’s interesting how, once you’ve seen something, identified its shape or pattern, you start noticing it in your life.

The very day after the Kestrel showed up at my house we visited Lady Bird Johnson’s Pollinator Garden 60 miles away in Fredericksburg, Texas. As I was leaving the garden I saw this bird swoop overhead and land in the very top of a tree. Before even raising my camera I knew what it was, a female this time.

Her markings distinct and beautiful.

 

American_Kestrel_Female

 

My mind easily identified the pattern first, before I had a clear picture of the bird.

Patterns are important. They are part of how we learn, and how we identify things.

The Kestrel’s look to the ultraviolet patterns on the ground to find their prey, their life-source.

Patterns are equally important in the voles life. They know that when a certain shape flies overhead, they need to take cover, to preserve life.

If we look closely, we will see patterns in our own lives. Some are life-giving, and some are just the opposite.

Taking time to identify these patterns can be beneficial. Seeing patterns that are life-giving, such as God’s faithfulness in our life, cause us to respond with praise and thanksgiving. Identifying other patterns, such as stress, fatigue or patterns of abuse, can empower us to make positive changes.

Nature has so much to teach us! I am continually amazed at the Creator’s design. The way He has woven all of us, humans, birds, and all creatures into the tapestry of life. It’s a distinct and beautiful pattern, indeed.

What patterns do you see in your life?

What has nature taught you about life?

 

Blessings,

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Sharing inspiration here:

Nature Notes, Sweet Shot Tuesday, Through My Lens, Little Things Thursdays,

Bird D’pot, Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens, Wild Bird Wednesday,

Our World Tuesday, Community Global

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Inspired by . . . Grateful Series I: Be the one

11 On the way to Jerusalem {Jesus} He was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12And as He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”14When He saw them He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19And He said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-18
Leaf_Shadows

We don’t hear much about leprosy these days, although it certainly exists. It is a horrendous painful disease. Just being cured of leprosy would be enough to warrant praise and worship. But being rid of a disease was not all these ten men gained from meeting Jesus that day.
In Jesus’ day lepers were banished outside of the city gates. They could not worship in the temple. They could not make sacrifices for their sins. They were separated from their families and had to stay at least a hundred yards away from other people.
Being healed meant their entire lives were restored.
Redeemed.
Jesus literally gave them their lives back.
You know the story. Ten were healed. But only one returned to give Jesus praise and thanksgiving.
It’s easy to judge the ten, but let’s focus on the one.
If you’re a believer, Jesus has done for you what He did for these lepers.
He has given you a brand new life.
Restored - redeemed.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal 2:20
Will we be the one? the one who grows a daily habit of gratefulness on the realization of what God has done?

PetalAmongsttheLeaves

Be the one.

Blessings,
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*Thoughts inspired by the I’m Grateful reading plan at Bible.com


Sharing inspiration here:
Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,
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, Still Saturday, #write31days

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 45:52

Last month, this space was dedicated to Praying the Names and Attributes of God. You can find all 31 posts by clicking the #write31days button on the sidebar. It was an amazing JOurneY. Series posts are always fun to do, but I’m looking forward to some variety this month!

If you’ve ever been to central Texas you know that our 36th President, Lyndon B Johnson lived in this area. While some opinions may differ on Johnson’s contribution to our country, no one can dispute the legacy Lady Bird Johnson gave to Texas.

Each and every spring our roadsides attest to her tireless efforts to beautify this state. Our country as a whole benefited from her efforts in the Beautification project she established, long before being green and environmentally concerned was politically correct. Despite threats made on her life, civil rights remained a primary focus for her and her husband. Lady Bird said, "It would be a bottomless tragedy for our country to be racially divided…" And indeed she was, and is, correct. I wonder how a young person today might be inspired to work both for their country, and for their fellowman if they were taught the legacy of this determined and tender woman. I believe our politicians might learn a thing or two about bipartisanship as well.

But I digress . . .

Having made their home here in central Texas, there are numerous parks and places that bear the Johnson name, specifically Lady Bird’s. The Dreamer and I are often out driving around and sometimes it’s fun to just follow a sign. We were greatly rewarded a few weeks ago when we followed the sign to Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park in Fredericksburg. Among other useful things, the municipal park hosts a delightful Pollinator Garden!

 

EntrywayPollinatorGarden

 

 RedSalvia

Art is the window to man's soul. Without it,

he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world;

nor could the world see the man within.

Gulf_Fritillary_CowPenDaisy

 

Bee_Sage

The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.

Sunflower

 

QueenButterfly_Mistflower

Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.

CommonBuckeye_Lantana

 

Queen_yellowFlower

While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few,

it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many.

~Lady Bird Johnson

 

Have a wonder-filled day!

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Sharing inspiration here:

Nature Notes, Sweet Shot Tuesday, Through My Lens, Little Things Thursdays,

Bird D’pot, Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens, Wild Bird Wednesday,

Our World Tuesday, Community Global

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Inspired by . . . a month in photos: October

 

October was a bit of a blur. A good blur,  but a blur. When look back through my journal I see “another busy day” penned over and over again!

What will I remember most about October? The sunrise . . . and God.

 

Sunrise2

 

October is the only month when the sunrise and my rise occur at the nearly same time, lol. And, thanks to the #write31days challenge, every morning found me communing with His spirit, unfolding the layers of His name and nature.  If you missed it, you can find all 31 entries here: Praying the Names and Attributes of God

Here’s a glimpse of what I shared:

 

OCT_Collage

 

My favorite photo:

 

Mercy_Grace

 

Favorite quote (from Sarah Koontz #write31days):

 

Prayer does not fit us for the greater work,

Prayer is the greater work. ~Oswald Chambers

 

 

Sprinklings of His mercy and grace:

1. Strength for the JOurneY

2. Provision and Protection

3. Rain

4. The blessing of another year (anniversaries & birthdays)

5. An afternoon with Mom

 

What about you, when you

look back at October what do you see?

 

Blessings,

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Sharing inspiration here:

Mona’s Picturesque

Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,

Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,

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, Still Saturday, #write31days