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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,



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Inspired by . . . His good pleasure

The percussion of the seed pods on the cottonwood tree call the chickadees to frolick in her branches.



I don't think the trees tolerate the birds. I think they glory in the touch of those tiny nails against their skin, reminding them of their purpose. Their reason for living.

Were the trees made for the birds or the birds for the trees?

It matters not when you consider the great Truth. The circle of life connects us all.



God made all. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. (Jn 1:3)

Why?

For His good pleasure.

And ours.

He is a God Who delights in giving good gifts to His children.
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luk 11:9-13)
When we embrace the gifts He has given us and respond with praise and thanksgiving for all He has done we are freed to love others as He has loved us. [click to tweet]






How are you embracing the gifts and blessings He is pouring out on your life?


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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Inspired by . . . do the next thing

Sometimes I get stuck.

Overwhelmed by all there is to do or all I want to do, I end up doing nothing.

Sometimes nothing can be good. Like when it amounts to rest, stillness before the Lord. But sometimes doing nothing amounts to unproductive [mindless] activity. This is not good.

I hate days when I can't focus and go from one mindless activity to the other. You, too?

The balance between rest/stillness and mindless activity can be challenging. Especially when physical circumstances force you to slow down.



Every day, hundreds of times a day, we all make the choice to do the next thing. The motivation behind our choice is what makes it mindful or mindless.

Often we're simply responding to basic needs. Our bodies need to be fed and cared for. Financial obligations met. Houses cleaned. Yet even within these tasks, there are choices.

I know how easy it is to fall prey to allowing Life to dictate my choices. Getting into reaction mode, rather than being pro-active. Because it's easier when Life is coming at you full force. But easier is often not better.

So how do we keep our motivation pure and make the right choices when we do the next thing?
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. (Isa 26:3)

The simple answer, which isn't simple at all, is to keep God at the forefront of all we do. I'm learning that this is more about establishing a habitual discipline than it is about taking chunks of time out of the day.  We don't have to stop and go into our prayer closet for 30 minutes every time we need to make a decision. Certainly, there are major decisions that require significant prayer. But when we are conscious to involve God in our everyday routine, simply pausing to acknowledge that we need Him throughout the day, we will find ourselves breathing prayers for guidance naturally. [click to tweet]

He has given us the Holy Spirit to direct and guide us. So, why do we mostly ignore this precious gift!? Imagine running on the power of the Holy Spirit throughout the day rather than your own? I expect that sounds good to a few weary souls out there. I know it sounds good to me!
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (Joh 14:26)

These breath-prayers have been a challenge and a focus for me this year. As with any spiritual discipline, they take time and I'm nowhere close to having this all figured out. But every time I remember to seek Him and acknowledge my need for His presence during the day I am blessed and my choices and actions honor Him.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Rom 8:26)
How about you? Are you mindful of God during the day? Do you acknowledge your need for Him in the daily minutia of Life? 


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

Monday, March 13, 2017

Inspired by . . . a curious harmony

A cold front came in last night. The clouds are low and plentiful today, casting long gray shadows through the cottage windows.

Time seems suspended. Still.

There is a curious harmony at work in these days. While there has been a physical shift in my world out of necessity, there has also been a spiritual one.

At first, I couldn't name it. This change. So foreign it was to my being.



The striving is gone.

I no longer feel the drive to be pro-active in my faith. Rather, my spirit is content to wait and simply respond to His promptings, His leading. 

It has been a subtle shift. My life hasn't stopped being crazy.

But I have stopped being crazy.

A simple pause, ever so slight, in the middle of whatever, to acknowledge His presense. Breath prayers. A nod to His majesty. I'm learning, slowly, to pray without ceasing.

I have so far to go. Yet I already feel like a new person inside an old skin. 

As we enter the second week of Lent I feel deeply embeded in the darkness. Not a scary evil darkness. No, evil cannot dwell with our Lord. There is nothing to fear from the darkness of the Lenten season. Christ has gone before us. We have nothing to fear by following.

I have not given up for Lent. Rather I have added. Added more of Him into my every day. In walking with Jesus in His last days, as He made His way to Jerusalem, teaching and healing along the way, we have the gift of hindsight. We know what He knew.

He was walking to the cross.

This juxtaposition - the light that surrounded Him as He taught and healed even as the darkness of death overshadowed Him - this, too, is our reality.

As the days get longer, the trees and flowers burst forth with new life, we walk with Jesus into darkness. 



We do this in a spiritual sense, but we also know the reality of physical death. At some point our earthly bodies stop growing and begin dying. For some, the pain of this reality comes sooner than others.

So even as we go about our lives, living loud and joyous, we are walking into darkness. 

I don't say this to be macabre. But rather to point you to HOPE. 

For if we never acknowledge the reality of death, we won't live our lives in the fullness of the hope we have in Christ. [click to tweet]

We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:4)
We can walk by faith, I believe, because we know how the story ends.

Just as the grave could not hold our Lord, neither will it hold us.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Co 15:51-57)
This is the hope we have that when our earthly life is done, we shall live eternally with Him. This is why we should take these seven weeks of the year to remember His death.

To remember His life. To meld it closely with our own. Because our lives are not always loud and joyous. Sometimes they are dark and silent.


And we need to know how to stand in the dark and silent times.

We can stand, even walk victorious through them . . . because of Him.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Inspired by . . . God sees you

Hello, friends,

Thank you for your grace while I've been away for a few days. 

I mentioned, briefly, in my year-end post that I had received a challenging medical diagnosis in 2016. I had a flair up about 10 days ago that ultimately landed me in the ER last Thursday. My first time ever in the hospital.

I don't share this for your sympathy, or even the sweet well wishes I know you will be quick to offer. I mention it because . . . God.



Only God could provide an ER doctor who was an expert in my condition. (His son was diagnosed twelve years ago and ever since he has made it a point to learn everything he could about the disease.) Dr. Rice immediately saw that this was all new to me. More importantly, he saw that I had not understood nor accepted the full import of my condition.

He was able to speak some sobering truths to both my husband and me. But he also gave me hope.

He saw me, he saw my situation. He cared.

And through him, I knew that God did too.

And that's what I want you to know. Whether you have a chronic medical condition, a chronic relationship, bondage to a particular sin, an over-scheduled life, whatever your situation is - big or small - God sees you. He cares about You and about Your Life!

Just like you hurt when a loved one is hurting, God hurts when you're hurting. [click to tweet]

Don't ever doubt it.



My condition isn't curable, but it is manageable. And while I'm still a long way from acceptance of my situation, I know without a doubt that there is a purpose and that His grace is sufficient.
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Co 12:9)
I've missed connecting with all of you here and visiting with those of you who have blogs. I'll see you soon!

Blessings, 



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