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Monday, April 24, 2017

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

My Dreamer and I were out of town last week, so I'm a bit off my regular post schedule.

Our trip didn't go at all as planned. In fact, we ended up doing something entirely different, in a completely different place.

Eastern Phoebe
But that's okay. Sometimes we need to be reminded that our future is not in our hands.
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."  (Jas 4:13-15)
That can either be an incredibly scary truth or an incredibly peaceful one.

It really depends upon your view of God.

When I consider the current state of our world, knowing that God is in control brings peace to an otherwise chaotic view. Dialing that down to our own "little worlds," I've found the result to be the same. We may want to be in control, but striving for that reality only ever left me in a continual state of worry and strife. [click to tweet]

I still make plans, but I try to do so with an open hand and open heart.

I should take a lesson from the sweet little finches that visit my yard.


Lesser-goldfinch Texas morph
Because of the destructive raccoons in my area, I wasn't able to leave my bird feeders out while I was away. Silly me, I was actually worried about the birds not having food while I was gone.


Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Mat 6:26)
Yes, I am more valuable than they. And God will care for me, just as He cares for the birds of the air.

In other bird news, I spotted my first ruby-throat of the season!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
They are on their way north to a feeder near some of you! In a rare show of solidarity, I captured a few of the females eating together.



One of my favorite milkweed varieties, antelope horn, is in bloom.



This milkweed attracts a lot of different pollinators. These little butterflies are hairstreaks, the "Olive" Juniper Hairstreak, I believe. The antelope horn is a primary food source for monarch butterflies, so I'm glad to see it in abundance this year.

Nestwatch:

Mamma wren is busy feeding her babies.




I count a total of three beaks so far! They're growing fast. Be sure to come back next week for another update.



Have you made any plans lately that didn't quite work out?

What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Have a wonder-filled week,

Note: Earlier this week, my friend, Lyli, shared ten powerful promises of God that will bring you peace. You can find them here: Lylidunbar.com




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
Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory, Life-N-Reflection,
Faith On Fire, Grace & TruthInspire 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,
#DancewithJesus

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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

After culling my photos from this last week I realized I had far too many that I wanted to share with you for one post. So you'll have to come back next week to see the rest!

These first pictures are awful as far as quality goes. I took them through our side windows after the sun had set. My poor camera had no light to work with. But it was so exciting to see this Common Gray Fox! I just had to share them with you!




Despite his name, these foxes are anything but common. This is only the 2nd time in the five years I've lived here that we've seen one.  I think you can tell how beautiful he is even though the pictures are so poor. He usually only comes after dark but I hope I can get better pictures to share with you in the future.

I added a new bird to my life list this week. This lovely Eurasian Collared Dove.



Sadly, the white-winged doves were not welcoming, so I haven't seen her since.

Does this look like a likely place for a nest?



I didn't think so either, but those crazy wrens . . .



You can barely see the little pink babies inside. I'll post updates as they grow!

I've mentioned before that we have a variety of flycatchers in the area. I've seen the Great Crested Flycatcher in years past, but this year it seems he has decided to stay. He may have a mate and a nest - I'm still watching and investigating!




We finally got all the plants in the garden! I stick mostly with Lantana, Sage, and milkweed varieties. Partly to discourage the deer but they are also wonderful plants for butterflies! 



And we've already had visitors!




I've seen two monarchs already! So far, only the pipevine swallowtail [battus philenor] has lingered long enough for me to capture. Always a favorite!

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in--what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Blessings,


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;
Life-N-Reflection

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Inspired by . . .  foolishness


Much of what I write about here may seem like foolishness to you.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Pro 14:12)
This man, Jesus, and what He did may seem foolish to you.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." (1Co 1:18-19)
I understand. Without the Holy Spirit to enlighten you, these things will make little sense.

The things of God must be spiritually discerned. However, God is easily found by anyone who seeks Him.
And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In Him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed His offspring.' (Act 17:26-28)
You have a choice when it comes to Jesus. To accept or deny Him. This choice can be put off, but it cannot be escaped. In the end, a choice you will make.

Your disbelief does not offend me. It grieves me. I pray that your heart will soften. That you will seek the Truth.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (Joh 8:31-32)
So what is the truth?

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom 3:23)

Our sin separates us from a Holy and Just God.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

But GOD . . .

but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, (1Pe 3:18)

The debt of sin must be paid.  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb 9:22)

For our sake He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Co 5:21)

There is no magic formula to faith in Christ. You don't have to say special words or be forgiven by a priest. Jesus is our High Priest. Go to Him. Confess to Him your sin. Repent (turn away from your sin) and believe in Him.

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Rom 10:9-10)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1Jn 1:9-10)

Remember,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

If you have taken theses steps of belief today, I greatly rejoice with you! You are a new creation!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2Co 5:17)

And just as a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis needs time to strengthen his wings before he can fly, you will need a time of strengthening, too. I urge you to connect with other believers in a Bible-teaching church. Let someone (I'd be honored if it were me) know about the decision you've made. I've listed some ministries at the end of this post that can give you guidance.

But most important of all - read His word! Get to know Your Savior! 

For He Is Risen!
Celebrate this truth today!

Amen.
Blessings on your Easter,


Resources:
Online Bible Reading: https://www.youversion.com/
Truth for Life Ministry of Alister Begg: https://www.truthforlife.org/
How to Know Jesus: https://peacewithgod.net/
Online Bible Resource: https://www.biblegateway.com/




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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Inspired by . . . the agony of His love


He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isa 53:3-5)

Walking slowly through the events of John 19 hurts my heart. I want to read quickly - run to the empty tomb. Cling, like Mary to my Risen Savior.

But I believe there is always a purpose to suffering. A lesson woven through the trials of this life. A molding of our hearts to be like His. No matter how much it hurts. And, friend, it will never hurt us as much as it hurt Him.

Flogging, scourged, mocked, spit upon. The written word can seem benign until we dig deeper into its meaning.

The truth is when the soldiers placed the purple cloak around Jesus the flesh on His back had been stripped to the bone. Already close to death, the soldiers would have had to hold Him upright to receive the mocking they were about to give Him. The thorns that dug into His scalp were barely felt amidst the fire flaming from His back.

And yet, I wonder if the emotional pain He felt from the mockery, the betrayal of those He loved wasn't worse. I think it was. 

The hatred in the eyes of the crowd, His people, the people He healed, the people He came to save. The hatred in the eyes of the soldiers. This is what crushed our Lord.

The agony of the cross is love. The lesson of the cross is love. The command of the cross is love. [click to tweet]

In the garden when Judas betrayed Him, Jesus called him Friend.(Matt 26:50)  Does it surprise you that even then Jesus reaches out to Judas with love? It shouldn't. 
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2Pe 3:9)
Even Jesus' question to Judas in Luke 22:48 is a plea of grace.
That is the wonder of a grace that is amazing. It is the challenge to the redeemed heart from the heart of the Redeemer. ~Bill Crowder, The Path of His Passion
The fact that Jesus continued to love and have compassion for those who hated, rejected, mocked and reviled Him doesn't change the depth of His suffering. The rejection didn't hurt any less.

In truth, I believe His capacity for love made His suffering worse. Just as His purity made the slightest thought of being consumed by the sins of the world total agony for Him.

Yet He bore it all. Willingly.

For me. For you.

Because of His great love for us.

The cross is the action behind the words of Jesus that we so easily stumble over.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. [Jn 13:34]

I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you [Matt 5:44]
The power of the cross is the power of Christ in us. It enables us to obey, even where obedience may seem impossible. [click to tweet]

Like loving your enemy. The one who has betrayed you. Mocked you. Rejected you. Abused you.

As I sit at the foot of the cross and listen to my Lord and Savior, 
And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luk 23:34)
I realize the amazing gift of forgiveness isn't one I can keep just for myself. Just as the message of the cross is meant to be shared, I must also share the grace I have been given, while I was yet His enemy, to those who are yet my enemies.

For it is by grace, His grace, that they may be saved.

Shalom,





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,
#DanceWithJesus

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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

We've had a wet Spring. Thankfully, the storms here haven't been damaging like they have been in north and east Texas.  

We've been blessed.

My roses, before the deer nipped their delectable buds, were blooming violently and heavy with droplets.





The birds, like this female Northern Cardinal, enjoyed a good washing, too. 



The world seems fresh and new after a rainstorm. The pollen washed from the air. All the earth seems to be singing His praises. "Thank You, Lord, for washing us clean again!"




This is a song He rejoices to hear all of us sing.

What are you seeing through 
your lens this week?

Blessings,


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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Inspired by . . . the weight of grace

I'm still lingering in the upper room. Arrested by the weight of the love and grace that Jesus offers in these moments.

Love and grace that is fatally and tragically rejected.

Again, we have the benefit of viewing these passages from the other side of the events that were to take place. We know what Jesus knew and what the disciples did not.



Betrayed by a kiss.

From the moment Jesus fashioned him in the womb He knew His betrayer. Yet the fact that the disciples didn't suspect Judas suggests that Jesus showed him no less mercy, no less love and no less grace than any of the others.

This man walked with our Lord! Saw the depth of His compassion and mercy day after day. And yet was compelled to betray Him for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave.

How could this happen? 

I have my own theory about how dipping into the money bag hardened Judas' heart to spiritual things over time. [John 12:6] Scripture has many warnings that we should heed in this regard. 

The ultimate tragedy is that Judas could have turned to Jesus in his remorse, but he did not. [Matt 27:3-5] (Maryleigh posted a wonderful piece here on the difference between Judas and Peter)
"Judas Iscariot symbolizes wasted opportunity, rejected grace, and unaccepted love. Fatal choices all." Bill Crowder, The Path of His Passion [click to tweet]

Grace, wrapped in a piece of lamb, bitter herbs, and a radish.

We see John 13:26 as the unmasking of the traitor. But Jesus meant it quite differently. In the tradition of the Passover meal, the first piece of dipped "sop" was given to the guest of honor! 

Grace freely offered.

Beyond the shouts of "Hosanna!" we hear the echoes of, "Crucify Him!"

It was not Judas Iscariot who sent Jesus to the cross.

It was each one of us. But the darkness of that truth cannot overwhelm us.

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on His right and one on His left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luk 23:33-34)


For we are forgiven. Washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. The unmerited favor of our Lord.

In the coming week, as we walk the final steps with Jesus to the cross, as we try to identify in the darkness and pain of His rejection, let us hold fast to the Light of His Grace. . .


. . . and grace will lead us home.

Blessings,





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,
#DancewithJesus

Monday, April 3, 2017

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

It was a gray, misty morning and I almost didn't go outside for my morning devotions. But the finches were calling and the little wren had much to tell, so out I ventured wrapped in my favorite sweater, confident that coffee and the Word would warm the rest.

The cottonwood tree in my front yard is still young and she likes to tease. It was several minutes before I realized she was hiding masked bandits behind her leaves.



Cedar Waxwings are one of my favorite birds! I only get to see them about twice a year when they come through. Although they winter in Texas we don't have enough berry bushes around to get them to stay very long.




Little droplets of red wax on his wings are no doubt where he got his name. And it looks like he dipped his tail in someone's yellow paint bucket.



Waxwings winter in more than half the United States and are year-round visitors in the northern climes, so chances are you have them where you live.





They almost always travel in flocks, although the number of birds will vary. I had about a dozen visitors. They stayed around a good part of the morning and I enjoyed every minute of their visit!




We can miss so much locked away in our little houses. I'm glad I didn't miss the blessing God had for me on this misty morning.


What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Blessings,


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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Inspired by . . . bitter herbs

As we walk with Jesus toward the cross we find ourselves in a large upper room, reclining at the Passover table. The sharp smell of bitter herbs and human sweat mixes with the pungent odor of the oil lamps.

Water laps against the side of a wooden bowl as Our Lord kneels to wash the feet of one who will abandon Him. One who will deny Him. One who will betray Him.

Don't rush over these familiar verses. The message and warnings of the discourse here are muli-layered and of great value. (Matt 26:18-49)

Lean in when the Lord speaks, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." 

"Is it I, Lord?"

We have all denied Him in some way. Failed to speak. Failed to act.

Sit with that for a moment. Let it hurt your heart.

But do not despair.

For we have something the terrified and disillusioned disciples did not have in between the kiss of betrayal and the empty tomb. [click to tweet]
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." 
We have the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us. To comfort us when we fail. We have grace and forgiveness.

We have the cross and the resurrection.

We have Jesus, Himself.



Rest in these truths. Let them comfort you in times of failure. Let them embolden you to go forth and speak and act in His name.

May we always be willing to admit when we fail Him. To come to Him in humility and repentance and accept the bread of forgiveness He offers, which is His body, broken for us. [click to tweet]


Blessings,






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,
#DancewithJesus, Pink Saturday

Monday, March 27, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 13:52

Spring enters with a chorus of bird calls. This is the most active time of year for the birds and I want to camp out on my front porch and take it all in.

The Mockingbirds are deliriously animated in their courtship. Sitting high atop the oak trees, reciting every playlist they've ever learned in hopes of attracting a mate. 



The smaller birds, like the Black-crested Titmice and the Carolina Chickadees, chase each other through the trees, chattering as they go.



The Carolina Wrens are a fickle sort. Building a nest here, only to abandon it for a better location over there.



My sweet Phoebe's are a joy to watch and wake me every morning just before dawn with their gentle calls.



Yesterday, I watched two red-tailed hawks ascending the thermals, the sun burned their undersides golden as they dipped and soared. I'd love to follow them back to their nesting site but my world has boundaries that theirs will never know.

The Vermillion Flycatcher and his mate dashed through in a flash of tangerine-red. So brilliant my eyes can barely hold the color. 



The black-chinned hummingbirds are back. Two so far. I have two feeders in the yard and they still don't want to share. When the ruby-throats start north the real wars will begin.



The finches are at the feeders again after feasting in the fields all winter. And the sweet chipping sparrows are enjoying the suet I keep stocked.  





Soon the migratory birds will begin passing through and I'll have fun trying to identify them one-by-one. If you're interested, allaboutbirds.org is a great resource site.

Bird watching is a great excuse to slow down and take note of the world around you - you'll be amazed at what you can find in your own backyard!

So tell me, what are you observing through your lens this week?


Have a wonder-filled day,


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