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Monday, January 30, 2017

Inspired by . . . January: a look back


Then came old January, wrapped well
In many weeds to keep the cold away
Yet, did he quake and quiver like to quell
And blewe his nayles to warm them if he may;
For they were numbed with holding all the day,
An hatchet keene, with which he felled the wood
And from the trees did lop the needlesse spary.
Fuerie Queen & Spenser
(As recorded by Edith Holden in The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady)

* * *

This year, I'm continuing my month-end practice of looking back at the previous month in pictures - often with a few words mixed in. 

January itself is a month when we tend to look back at the year before and plan for the year ahead. I did some of that here.

January is, for me, a rather bleak month. And you can hear a yearning for spring in most of my posts this month.

Even most of the photos seem to lack their usual color.



January was a bit different for me this year in that I didn't feel the normal let down after the Christmas holiday. The wonder hasn't faded. I think the reason for that is, in part, because I haven't stopped seeking Him. His birth has given way to the manifestation of His presence and I'm intentionally seeking Him daily. [click to tweet]



One of the ways I seek Him is through prayer. Far from being an easy discipline, I know I'm not alone in my struggles to learn how to "pray without ceasing."

One of the tools I'm using is Timothy Keller's book on Prayer. In just the introduction he tells us, 
"We must know the awe of praising His glory, the intimacy of finding His grace, and the struggle of asking His help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of His presence."
To which my soul responds, "Yes, exactly!"

He then goes on to help us in Understanding Prayer and Doing Prayer. I'm only on chapter four and already I feel like his words have had an impact on my prayer life.

Our words matter. Both the words we offer to God and the words we speak to each other. I've been struck anew this month by just how much words impact our lives. Carefully choosing the sources of the words we listen to and the frequency with which we tune into those sources doesn't mean ignoring the world around us. However, our first and last source for Truth should always be God's word. [click to tweet]
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

Shalom, 



Sharing inspiration here:
Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Thought Provoking Thursday, 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,  Life thru the Lens

Friday, January 27, 2017

Inspired by . . . Five Minute Friday: Control

You may or may not be familiar with Five Minute Friday. It's a group of writers who meet weekly and write a five-minute post based on a word prompt provided by Kate Montaung the night before. It's a wonderful community - - I can say that because I read many of the bloggers who participate. This is my first time.

I'm not much of a "prompt" type of writer. But the words that came to me this morning seemed to fit this week's word, so I thought I'd join in the fun of this community. You're welcome to join, anytime.


Control . . .

Scripture tells us that we are "not of this world" and that we are "strangers and aliens."  The deeper my relationship with Christ becomes the more loosely I feel tethered to the things of this earth.

That doesn't mean that I don't love deeply and dream big. But when people fail us and plans change we can't let it destroy us. [click to tweet]

We cannot let outside sources dictate our actions and cause us to fear.

God is in control.  He is our constant when all else is failing and falling apart. He never changes.

When we put God back in His rightful place of having control over our lives we are free to love and dream in ways we could never have imagined before.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (Joh 8:36)

Blessings, 


Sharing inspiration here:
Five Minute FridayTestimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Thought Provoking Thursday, 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

Monday, January 23, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 04:52

January desperately needs flowers. [click to tweet

So writes one of my IG friends and I wholeheartedly agree.

So this week I'm sharing with you some my favorite blooms from 2016.




“I must have flowers, always, and always.” 

― Claude Monet



“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy 

the whole time to have such things about us.” 
― Iris Murdoch


The winter is over; the rains have stopped; in the countryside the flowers are in bloom. 
This is the time for singing; the song of doves is heard in the fields.

(Son 2:11-12)


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, January 20, 2017

Inspired by . . . the light of Spring

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray. I can't get that song out of my mind and I bet now you can't either. 

I'm out for another walk on a winter day. Now that the cold snap is over it doesn't feel much like winter, though. This girl-of-summer is okay with that, especially when it means the lack of finger-crippling cold equals more time spent building our home.

Today, I've ventured out to document the progress. I could share those pictures here but you would just look at them and say, "Uh? A house. Really?"



I feel that way at this stage too, so I'm trusting in those with a higher knowledge than myself.

I'm also out looking for beauty. Winter's beauty is easy when the earth is dressed in white. When snowflakes excite the imagination and ice transforms the lines of a stick into extravagant art. You have to look deeper when everything is brown and gray.



There is beauty in death. A terrible beauty. And we all must face it.

But I long for the beauty of the living. The peach blossoms (soon) and the butterflies.

Maybe this is why I could never worship or pray to a dead god.

I know that my Redeemer lives. I know it like I know how to breathe.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. (Job 19:25)



We may learn our greatest lessons in the darkness of the winter, but my soul continually longs for the light of spring. [click to tweet]


Blessings,




Sharing inspiration here:
Small WondersTestimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Thought Provoking Thursday, 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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 03:52

We took a trip to Colorado last November and although I have shared some images on IG and featured a few black and white pictures in LTML 51:52 I'm sharing my favorite captures with you today.

We missed the aspens this year, nevertheless, Colorado's stark & lofty landscapes still took my breath away.






The majesty of the mountains hold you captive. The still, reflective waters seep into your soul.



Looking down from the ascended heights can leave you dizzy and disoriented. This is a view of Silverton coming around the last curve of the mountain. (my hands may have been shaking just a little!)



Thankfully, the ones who have mastered those heights and beyond have a way of connecting you back to the earth.

My best guess on this bird ID is a Swainson's Hawk. Feel free to correct me. This was taken just outside of Gunnison, CO.



Continuing on from Silverton, we drank deeply of the waters as we weaved in and out of the Blue Mesa Reservoir.



No ID help needed here. Words fail me when searching for the right way to describe the feeling inside when I spotted these two bald eagles and their juvenile from the road.



Wonder.
Awe.
Reverence.
These words merely scratch the surface.



Sometimes the very thing you're longing for is hiding in plain sight.

What are you looking for or what have you found this week that has filled you with WONDER and JOY?


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, January 13, 2017

Inspired by . . . bounty

For many, January is a lonely month. A bleak and desperate time. Suicide rates are at their highest and other statistics prove out the struggle that many have as we face the very heart of winter.



But there is HOPE. There is always HOPE. And we find that hope by looking to Him and considering all that He has given us:

A family to train us,
laws that defend us,
homes that shelter us,
food that nourishes us,
clothes that comfort us,
the longevity of health, senses, understanding, memory, affection, and free will.

He has made summer and winter, day and night; all of which revolves to serve our welfare.



Yet all of this proof of His loving-kindness, all this bounty, is not enough. Each will pass away. The sun and moon, all will pass away.

None of these things will save us.

In His infinite goodness, God has eclipsed all these things by the wisdom and grace bestowed upon us by the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.



May we freely claim the redemption that has been set before us. May we have faith to grasp the promises that are our HOPE; promises that provide for our every need and protect us from every evil.

May we believe in this HOPE and may we live as we believe.


Blessings,


Sharing inspiration here:
Small WondersTestimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Thought Provoking Thursday, 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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 02:52

I went for a winter walk today. Up to the hill where we're building our new home. Everything at this stage looks stalled and undone. But sometimes that is the way with dreams. One must have an imagination.

We're in between cold snaps. Yesterday was cold and windy. Today is dreary but warm. Tonight and tomorrow are supposed to be especially frigid. 

Texas.

As I walk I sense the shallow breaths of the sleeping earth. Even the sky is cloaked. Wrapped in layers of gray.



I'm thinking of Lizzy longing for her Jane. "My view from here is rather bleak." Or something like that . . .

Today, my view is the same. My Dreamer is away and since he is my heart, I feel justified in feeling so.

I'm hard pressed to find beauty today. It's always there, of course. Some days my eyes are not open enough to see it.

On the way back I remember something that I've been waiting to share with you. A pocket of JOYful remembrance that increases my step and reminds me that all days are not gray and dreary.

Because sometimes, even in winter, Texas gives us butterflies.







We bless thee, Lord for opening up to us the volume of 
nature where we may read and consider thy works.

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, January 6, 2017

Inspired by . . . Epiphany

Since last year (2015 actually) when I learned about the Church calendar (I talk a bit about my discovery here) I've become more focused on where we are in the biblical timeline than on what the calendar on the wall is telling me.

This year, for the first time, I celebrated the 12 days of Christmas. The realities of the incarnation deserve more than one, often distracted, day of ponderance. And I can already see how I might better celebrate these days next year. The last day of Christmas is January 5th and is followed, on January 6th, by the day of Epiphany. A day, which until this year, has meant nothing to me.

An epiphany is known to most of us as an illuminating discovery. The biblical meaning of the word is much along these same lines. The Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (aka Wisemen).
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him."
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: "'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.'" Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him."
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.  (Mat 2:1-12)
Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We picture the Wiseman bowed before a cradle, yet it is much more likely that they bowed before a wide-eyed toddler while His mother looked on in a state of awe.

I've pondered long why these mysterious men from the far east were given such great knowledge about the coming of the Jewish King. They were not "God's people." They held no claim to the Jewish God. Why would they make such an arduous and long journey to worship the Jewish boy King? and why does the Bible tell us about them and their gifts?

The answer is an illuminating discovery. It is a mystery unveiled. A revelation. One that the apostle Paul spent his life communicating to all who would listen.

The answer means everything to me and, unless you are a Jew, the answer should mean everything to you as well.

Jesus was not just the King of the Jews. 

He is King of all.

Jesus did not just die to save the Jewish people. 

He died to save the world.

The day of Epiphany celebrates the first glimpse of this truth. 
When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Eph 3:4-6)
I hope you will take a moment today to feast on this knowledge that we are fellow heirs and partakers of the promise. Christ has made a way. He has removed the barrier and torn the veil. We have, as wise men and wise women, full access to the one true God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

May the reality of this truth illuminate your heart today.

Blessings,






Sharing inspiration here:
Small WondersTestimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Thought Provoking Thursday, 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