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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Inspired by . . . Psalm 131
A Song of Ascents of David. LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever. (Psa 131:1-3)


What do you say when you come before the Lord?  Do you begin with your heart? Laying it open before the One Who fashioned it. Who knows it's every beat, and thought?

Do you confess the desire that grows there? The pride that causes the eyes to look toward things they should not seek?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)
Have you humbled yourself before Him? Calmed the tumultuous sea of self-will and learned contentment at His feet?

Do you take comfort in the divine grace He offers?



And hope in the salvation of mankind?

Shalom,



Sharing inspiration here:
Small WondersTestimony 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, Sitting Among Friends

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 17:52

The red birds steal the show this week, but there are definitely some others that deserve honorable mentions.

I'm so glad to see that the Vermilion has, apparently, decided to stay for awhile. I see him almost every day. He has a very unique flight pattern, almost like the flutter of a butterfly!



The other day, he came up to inspect our new fence and I was able to get some better shots of him.



I was even more delighted to see . . . MRS. Vermilion! and with nesting material in her mouth, to boot! From her coloring she looks like an immature female, so I hope their nesting attempt is successful!



I hear the cardinals all the time, but it's not often I get a chance to shoot them. 



This guy was rather wary of me!



The lesser-goldfinches are finally back to eating the nyjer seed! They haven't been eating it for months, and I still have no idea why. They've been feeding at the sunflower seed, but never on the sock. Very strange.





We're directly in the migratory path of thousands of birds, so I never know what I'm going to see from day to day, week to week. It's actually very exciting! The other day when I was out, I spotted a flock, quite high in the sky. Two more flocks came, one after the other. This was the best shot I could capture. From everything I read, with their black heads, and black wing-tips, I think they are most likely Franklin's Gulls migrating north for the summer. (id input/correction is always welcome!)



We had a beautiful full moon this week. Did you see it?



And last, but not least, because I promised more hummingbird shots:



Still haven't seen many ruby throats. This one is a black-chinned hummingbird. I call him Mr. Grumpy. {smile}


What are you seeing
through your lens
this week?

Blessings,

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Inspired by . . . wildflowers

It's been a wonderful year for wildflowers. While the bluebonnets are beginning to fade, most of these are still going strong.

For those of you who follow me on instagram, you will recognize these as shots I've been posting to my "wildflower meadow." These are just a few of the wildflowers we are blessed to see everyday when we walk out our front door.


Indian Paintbrush and bluebonnets, blue-eyed grass, evening primrose, rain lily, Indian wheat, black-footed daisy, antelope horn, nodding thistle, grey vervain, Venus' looking glass.


Where flowers bloom, so does hope.
~Lady Bird Johnson


Have a wonder-filled day,


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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Inspired by . . . Psalm 130

A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (Psa 130:1-8)


I chuckle every time I drive by this sign that my Dreamer put up on our property.  I'm sure you've probably seen similar signs in front of apartment complexes in your area. 

The idea is to entice people to stop driving, stop fighting, stop striving. Just pull in here and . . . rest, you're home.

The message appeals to our overworked, stressed-out society. But the truth is, changing your address won't change any of the things that we strive against in this world.  You'll only find yourself, stuck in traffic, sitting in front of a different apartment complex next week.

This world is not our home. 

Cliche? Maybe. But it's true. The soul of the believer will never find rest here. And we shouldn't try. 

Our soul longs for home - - longs for God. We cry to Him for mercy, and receive it in an abundance of overflowing, sweetened with grace.

We fear Him, not because He could squish our naughty bug-like selves, but because He could and He doesn't. Instead, He offers us forgiveness through the sacrifice of His beloved Son.

And so, our soul waits for Him - His return in glory. We wait with an expectancy, and sure hope. A hope more certain than that of the watchman awaiting the rising sun. Just as we are confident that the sun will rise every morning, we can be confident of the Son's return.


The final act of steadfast love in His plan of redemption.

Whatever you're striving against this week, this day, this hour, 
I encourage you to cry out to Him . . .

. . . and receive His mercy, His forgiveness, His love.

Shalom,



Small Wonders, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Let Us Grow,
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, Winsome Wednesday

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 16:52

If you stand in a wildflower meadow long enough something magical is bound to happen.

Sharing the magic . . .


Common Buck-eye Butterfly


Black-chinned Hummingbird / Nodding Thistle

Black-chinned Hummingbird / Nodding Thistle

Orange Sulphur Butterfly

Orange Sulphur Butterfly

Variegated Fritillary

Variegated Fritillary

Some type of Skipper Butterfly - can't positively id

American Lady Butterfly on Nodding Thistle

Have a wonder-filled day,


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

Friday, April 15, 2016

Inspired by . . . Psalm 129

What trial are you facing today, friend?

Big or small, I know there is something you're dealing with. There are always a few clouds whisping about, trying to cover our sun.

No clouds in your sky? Everything rosy and bright? I'm glad, truly I am. However, it's likely they'll be a puff on the horizon soon.

As I meditated on Psalm 129 this week, it brought me comfort and hope for these trying times.




A Song of Ascents. "Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth"— let Israel now say—"Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows." The LORD is righteous; He has cut the cords of the wicked. May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward! Let them be like the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, with which the reaper does not fill his hand nor the binder of sheaves his arms, nor do those who pass by say, "The blessing of the LORD be upon you! We bless you in the name of the LORD!" (Psa 129:1-8)
The psalm is referring to Israel's constant affliction, and the psalmist cries out for the Lord to destroy their enemies. But these words can be claimed by any true believer of Christ.

The psalm encourages us, while in our current trial, to remember our former afflictions, and to be comforted and assured of God's deliverance. Keeping a prayer journal, saving a token, or creating some type of memorial are great ways of remembering God's faithfulness to us.

As I read the words, "The plowers plowed upon my back," I'm reminded of what Christ endured for me. For you. No matter what we're going through, He has been there. And overcome.

Whether the trials we face are of our own making, are the consequences of choices made by others, or are just realities of this fallen world, by His power, we too, will overcome. Amen?

Romans 12 encourages us to pray for the salvation of our enemies, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't call upon God to avenge evil. No matter our circumstance, no matter the outcome, His word reminds us that He alone is just. He alone is righteous.

We can count on God to redeem all. 

Beginning with us.


Shalom,





Sharing inspiration here:
Small WondersTestimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Let Us Walk Worthy,
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, Winsome Wednesday

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 15:52

I finally have some Texas wildflowers to share with you this week - those dazzling Indian paintbrushes - - and a somewhat different approach to the buddy system.

The Texas Hill Country is carpeted with wildflowers. She puts on one of the best shows around!


Texas Wildflowers


Indian Paintbrush

Common Buck-eye Butterfly on Bluebonnet

The buddy system is used for everything from workplace safety to children's field trips. But nature has her ways, too. The Cattle Egret shows us, once again, that man is not the Author of original thought.




Originally from North Africa, the Cattle Egret will buddy up with pretty much any large roving object. Camels, ostriches, rhinos, and tortoises. Or, more likely in this country, cows and tractors.





Although they do help some animals by removing ticks and small insects, in most cases, the Egrets are getting the better end of the bargain. They following along beside their "buddy", whether it be animal or machine, and eat the small insects that are stirred up from the ground.




After arriving in South America in the late 1800's, they were found nesting in the US by the 1950's and are now one of the most abundant of the North American herons.


I guess Longhorns like Indian Paintbrush, too.



That's probably more than you ever wanted to know
about Cattle Egrets. Incidentally, these are in their breeding plumage. 
So if you see one, they may not be so buff.

What are you seeing through
your lens this week?



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

Friday, April 8, 2016

Inspired by . . . Psalm 128

A Song of Ascents. Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel!  (Psa 128:1-6)

His name is Mohammed.

He, along with his wife and six children live in a tent in a refugee camp. They were forced to leave their home in Mosul, Iraq, when the enemy invaded in June of 2014.

Mohammed is a Christian. In 2005, Jesus appeared to him in a dream and he believed. His wife did not, until three months later when she had the exact same dream. She saw Jesus and believed.

Their picture tells a story. All, except the wife, are clothed in western garb. The name of a popular running shoe peeks out from below Mohammed's jacket, and the cartoon characters from the last decade adorn the kid's shirts and hats. These western idols appear in stark contrast to the sandy ground and makeshift tents in the background.

Mohammed's wife cradles one of the children. The toddler's leg is bandaged from thigh to toes and Mohammed holds a bottle of fluid that is attached to the child. The rest of the children are smiling, save one, and the youngest holds up a small wooden cross.

You can see peace on the face of Mohammed and his wife. If you look closer, you can see lines around Mohammed's eyes, crows feet we call them. Despite his circumstances, this man has known JOY.

Now, in the refugee camp, Mohammed leads worship services for local Christians and Muslims who are interested in learning about God. He and his family experience continual persecution from their Muslim neighbors. He knows that he could be a target of extremists at any time. He chooses to serve, knowing that His life is in God's hands.



When I look at this picture of Mohammed and his family I see none of what we in this country would call a blessing. Even the children, six mouths to feed, must surely be a burden in this situation.

As I meditated on Psalm 128 this week the picture of Mohammed and his family kept returning to my mind. Their lives are far from ideal, even by their eastern standard of living. They are worlds apart from what we expect {and demand} in our western culture.

Yet, God is showing me that they are a beautiful example of the truths of Psalm 128. 
"Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD."
I can't know for sure, of course, but if I had to guess, I would say that Mohammed would tell you, "It is well with my soul."


Can we say the same?

Shalom,






Sharing inspiration here:
Small WondersTestimony 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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 14:52

I enJOY sharing these weekly views with all of you. Thank you, Lisa & Mersad, for hosting the fun link ups that motivate me!

The wildflowers are out in full force. I've been glad to see more bluebonnets than ever on our property this year. That means they are re seeding and spreading - yay!



You don't often see pictures of the bluebonnet's leaves. They are quite good at collecting water droplets.




There are some lessons that I just can't seem to learn. Taking my camera with me AT ALL TIMES, is one of them. During one of my walks last week I spotted a little ball of red sitting atop a dead stalk of common mullein. His quick flight, hover, and return told me it was likely the coveted vermilion flycatcher! By the time I walked to the house and back, I figured he'd be long gone. After taking some pics of the bluebonnets, I mulled around under the trees for a bit - and then - a quick flash -



Who was that masked bird?



They are so small, these little flycatchers. And like most small birds, they're big on personality! I was thrilled to finally see, and capture one! I hope he stays around!



We've had a lot of froggy mornings this week. Since I don't have to drive in it, I don't mind waking up to a bit of fog. It leaves everything fresh and new once the sun burns through. 





Besides the vermilion, which was definitely the highlight of my week, my scissor-tailed flycatchers are back! So far, I've only seen two, but I'm hoping they stick around and have a family like they have done the last two years. 



And then, on Friday, we had this:



Hail, which pretty much decapitated my poor geraniums.



I know many of you can relate to the crazy weather this spring. Sometimes odd weather patterns can impact migratory birds, as well, and you might be seeing some unusual birds in your neighborhood.

I need some id help with this pair. They came to visit me while I was planting my seedlings this past week. After the hail storm, thankfully.



At first, I thought they were my Phoebe pair. But when I downloaded my pictures, and looked again, I realize they are noticeably larger than the Phoebes. Definitely some type of flycatcher. My best guess is the Great Crested Flycatcher, but I'd love some help with this one!




What are you seeing
through your lens
this week?

Blessings,


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