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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Inspired by . . . Winter's Growth

I thought it might be a little difficult to continue writing about Winter once Spring started to make her appearance. But then, two noreasters blew through the eastern states and this morning I woke up to 32 degrees and frosty windows! I know that many of you have snow for the first time all winter.

Spring can be a tease and Winter a hard taskmaster. We can experience similar seasons in our spiritual lives. Just when we think we're ready to zoom and bloom, God tells us to slow down and wait.

Unlike snow and ice that gives no thought to what it might destroy in its wake, God's timing is always perfect - - seeking only our good. Rather than be frustrated when God asks us to wait, we should view the time as an opportunity for growing in faith and seeking deeper communion with Him. [click to tweet]

Our culture has taught against this but waiting is a gift, an opportunity to invest our "talents" wisely until the Lord returns. (Matthew 25:18-30)

My flower beds don't look like much right now; brown dirt and dead leaves. 

It's only when I rake away the dead leaves that I can see the growth underneath. During the long wait of winter, the perennials have rested, dormant, waiting. Their growth hidden beneath the ground and decaying leaves.

Our spiritual growth can be like that sometimes. We don't always realize how God is equipping us until the challenge (good or bad) appears. In my own life, I've found that God is often working most profoundly during those times when I feel the weakest - - when I am most unaware. Those slow and restful walks down from the mountaintop experiences prepare us to cross the valleys below. [click to tweet]

It is important to remember that the valleys are not always dry, harsh places of pain and wandering. Often they are valleys of vision. A place where God speaks to us and gives us words and works to share with others. (Eze 3:22) Sometimes they are valleys of strength where God provides rest and refreshment. (Psalm 84:6-7)

No matter which valley you find yourself traveling in today, I hope that this season of spring with its tender shoots of new growth will be a reminder to you that God is working. He's working quietly in our lives and in the world around us. 

His work is a redeeming work of mercy and grace. A work of rendering broken hearts and making them whole again; preparing them to walk in another valley one day. It is a valley wide and deep with little bands of pilgrims scattered here and there. All of them walking beside the river of the water of life. A river that shines as bright as a crystal flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. (Rev 22)

I hope to see you there.


Sharing inspiration here:
#TellHisStoryFaith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, #HeartEncouragement,
Thoughtful Thursdays#w2wwordfilledwednesday,
Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments,
#DanceWithJesus; Imparting Grace

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 11:52

Texas is known for its unusual weather but even this forecast is a little ridiculous.

The temps have actually cooled again this week. We did have one, very warm day this past weekend and it was enough to encourage this little guy to stop and say hello!

I hope to see more of them soon! 

I haven't been able to confirm any nesting sites yet but there continues to be a lot of activity at the feeders and around the yard.

The gold-fronted woodpeckers love the peanut suet!

A flock of meadowlarks have been hanging around for the last week or so. Finally, finally, I was able to get some decent shots of these elusive, flighty birds!

These were taken in the brightness of the morning sun and were a bit challenging to edit but I think they came out fair enough. Best of all, you can see the bird's beautiful markings.

What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Have a wonder-filled week, friends!

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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

There were only two Souls walking around the cemetery that day. My Dreamer and me.

Far from being a place of macabre, for me, the cemetery is a place of peace and tranquility. Of shelter and protection.

There is nothing sacred in ashes and bone. Nothing divine or holy resides in this place. Yet, what remains should be kept safe and free from defilement.

The part of us that is sacred, that part that has been set apart and sanctified, does not linger once it is released from the bounds of this earthly body. It immediately seeks its true home, complete in Christ. That which we knew in part has finally become whole.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1Co 13:12)
Some have a different view. They come and speak to the stones. They leave letters and trinkets. Little gifts of remembrance meant to comfort. 

Only the living are comforted. The dead remain.

We came searching for names. Sketching out the half-drawn branches on the family tree. As we walked, we remembered. And our memories brought the dead to life and clothed them in story. Each name fleshed out in a place and time. A blessing. A tragedy. A life well-lived.

Our lives may be just a vapor but they have a purpose. When we live for Christ we leave His divine imprint on every life we touch.

The seeds of faith are planted, or watered, or fertilized.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1Co 3:6)

Remembering is like stirring the potpourri.  Our words release the scent of blessing again to another generation.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. (2Ti 1:5)

We honor the dead by telling their stories and in the telling, we bestow a blessing on those who will listen.

Who has left a divine imprint on your life?


Sharing inspiration here:
#TellHisStoryFaith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, #HeartEncouragement,
Thoughtful Thursdays#w2wwordfilledwednesday,
Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments,
#DanceWithJesus; Imparting Grace

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 10:52

The temperatures are edging toward tolerable (for me) and the sun shone a bit more frequently this past week. 

I see more butterflies every day and other insects are on the move as well (though not all are welcome).

Orange Sulphur Butterfly

The pear tree blossoms are already gone by. They didn't last long this year. I hope the bees had their fill!

Speaking of bees, the birds and the bees, that is . . . the nesting craziness has begun!

I was busy this week cleaning out birdhouses and putting the hummingbird feeders out for the first time this year. (no hummer sightings yet!)

The Texas house may have some new tenants. I think they're still measuring for furniture.

Black-crested Titmouse

It's fun to watch the birds pair up. Our cardinal family fed together all winter but some species, like the Carolina Wrens, the Eastern Phoebes, and even the Gold-fronted Woodpeckers seem to pair up only during the nesting season. I'm glad to see them all together again!

Northern Cardial (male and female)
There was a pair of Meadowlarks out front this morning but I didn't get any clear photos. Hopefully, more will be arriving soon on their treck southward. Noticably absent lately have been the mockingbirds. We almost always have one or two in residence but I haven't seen much of them this winter. They should be busy building nests this time of year. 

My front porch got a good cleaning this weekend and I brought my potted plants out of their winter enclosure. It is so good to have them out on the porch again! 

I also cleaned out my flower beds and I'll be heading to the nursery this week for more plants. 

There is always the possibility of a late frost here in the Hill Country but I simply can't wait any longer! My perennials are already starting to sprout, so I'm not the only one who is ready to get growing!

I learned recently that every coral in the sea spawns, all at the same time, every year after the first full moon in November. Who knew?

It makes me wonder what marvels might have been set in motion by last week's full moon.

We had clouds Thursday night but I caught this beauty on the 2nd. I know they all look the same but I never tire of taking pictures of the moon!

What activties mark the change of seasons for you? What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Have a wonder-filled week, friends,

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Inspired by . . .  Winter's Discipline

"When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

I read this on someone's IG account the other day.  My friend wasn't talking about spiritual things but it made me wonder . . .

How many of us, who are waiting for Christ to reveal Himself or His plan for our lives, are still waiting simply because we are not ready to receive all that He has for us?

We like to think we are ready. 

I like to think I am ready.

But the truth is that most of God's purposes for us are realized through trials and suffering. 

Because His power is made perfect in our weakness.

And how many of us really signed on for that?

Well, ahem, we all did. Okay, I did. Maybe now you're not so sure?

Full disclosure:

God's word doesn't read like a modern day sales pitch or TV commercial. It doesn't tell us we are worth it, we deserve it, and everything is going to be perfect when we sign on.

Because, reality check, we're not, we don't, and it isn't.

Truth be told, much of our aversion to suffering has been propagated by the black box that is continuously feeding us these subtle lies about how our lives would be so much better if . . . Which eerily echoes: "Did God really say . . ."

But I digress.

God's word is pretty clear on what we can expect and what we must do.

The world will hate us. (John 15:18-19)

We will be persecuted. (Joh 15:20)

We will have trouble. (John 16:33)

We must deny ourselves and, day after day, take up our cross, and follow Christ. (Matt 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

Now before you start wondering why is it all worth it, let us remember two things:

One, suffering is not, in and of itself, good. It is the product of our fallen world. Two, this world is not our home. What we experience here is not our final reality.

God, in His infinite love for us, has determined to use suffering for good. But we have to be careful of our pride.
"To believe in suffering is pride: but to suffer, believing in God, is humility. For pride may tell us that we are strong enough to suffer, that suffering is good for us because we are good. Humility tells us that suffering is an evil which we must always expect to find in our lives because of the evil that is in ourselves. But faith also knows that the mercy of God is given to those who seek Him in suffering and that by His grace we can overcome evil with good. Suffering, then, becomes good by accident, by the good that it enables us to receive more abundantly from the mercy of God. It does not make us good by itself but enables us to make ourselves better than we are. Thus, what we consecrate to God in suffering is not our suffering but our selves." Thomas Merton
To truly follow Christ means to identify with Him in His suffering. His way ended in victory and light but we cannot forget how it began; in obscurity, a meager feeding trough. Or how He lived; the Son of man has no place to lay His head. (Luke 9:58)

Or how He died. 

The Passion that drove Him to the cross can only be realized in our own lives when we die to self. Completely.

It is only through this act of dying that we can live to bring forth fruit; by receiving the purpose and plan He has for our lives.
"Christ's love is so great, it must lift our minds above our little struggles - and any preoccupation with our own salvation - so that we can see the needs of others, and beyond that the greatness of God and His Creation." J. Heinrich Arnold
Here is where the discipline of winter may enter in. Forced to wait in the cold and dark, a bit uncomfortable, our sense of sight diminished. Perhaps now our spirit will be free to hear the One Who speaks quietly below the chaos of our lives.

Maybe the lack of sun and colorless days will bring on the hunger that is necessary for us to be thankful for any scrap of bread that may fall from His table. Perhaps, if we're made to wait long enough, we may finally come to the end of ourselves. To be willing to die to this life so that we may live for His.

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)

So I ask you, is the student ready?


Sharing inspiration here:
#TellHisStoryFaith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, #HeartEncouragement,
Thoughtful ThursdaysWord Filled Wednesday,
Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments,
#DanceWithJesus; Imparting Grace