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Friday, May 10, 2019

Inspired by . . . Bird Blinds Vol. 1

Pedernales Falls State Park

Any of you who have been visiting this blog for a while know how much I love birds and photographing birds. So you may be surprised to learn that, until recently, I had never been in a bird blind.

I have been hearing for years about the birding opportunities at Pedernales Falls State Park but had never taken the time to visit. This past January, we finally made it!

The park is beautiful and hosts two bird blinds! 

What an amazing experience!

Rather than blog-bomb you with an overabundance of photos I thought I would share over two or three posts.

Let's start out by cleaning things up a bit!


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Inspired by . . . He Is Risen!

"Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. 
As for the word that He sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. 
He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. 
They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him on the third day and made Him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. 
And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 
To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name."  (Act 10:34-43)

Blessings on your Easter!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Inspired by . . . silence the stones

In my memories, Easter is a wash of pastel colors; fresh greens, robin eggs, lavender buds, and sunshine.

It was a time for dressing up and going to church.  We knew about the cross but the concept of sacrifice was lost somewhere in the Easter baskets that were overflowing with gifts and candy.

Peanut butter eggs may be the best thing since sliced bread but the real gift of Easter is the sacrifice.


It's an unpopular concept in our world today. Prosperity is a gospel loudly proclaimed and universally accepted but someone giving out of their need rather than their excess is scarcely mentioned and rarely celebrated.

How can a world of instant, personal gratification understand a God who laid aside all His glory and power to become a man? A man who allowed Himself to be tortured and killed to save the very people who shouted, "Crucify!"?

I don't know. 

But I do know that those of us who believe live a life woven with the reality of this Truth. We are the heralds of His sacrifice. Our lives: a canvas to display His glory. Our lips: an instrument to praise His name.

And silence the stones.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Inspired by . . . rivulets in the desert

The intensity of these moments took my breath away. 

A sky so dark. The crescent moon so crisp in the sky I felt as if I could lift it free from the fabric of the night and tuck it in my pocket.

A sky so blue. Broken suddenly by the silence of wings. So deeply white, a cloud in the sky, his beak a ray of sunshine.

Moments seared hot in my memories. Whispers from heaven.

Rivulets in the desert.

When we're in the desert, especially when we're in the desert, the enemy loves to coax us off the path of faith with mirages of sunlit fields filled with wildflowers . . . that quickly turn into pools of tar and quicksand.

Time spent in a spiritual wilderness is a blessing that is most appreciated in hindsight. We are desperate to be in His presence, yet we can't seem to grasp even the hem of His garment.

Often, strangely, we find, finally, that He was closest to us when He seemed the farthest away.

In the desert, flash floods destroy what the rivulets sustain.

Perhaps, in this moment, He is revealing as much of Himself as we can contain.

A sky so dark.
A sky so blue.


Photo credit @getstencil

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Inspired by . . . a slow rebirth

After the beautiful weather we've had these last couple of weeks, we are now back to much cooler temperatures and grey skies. Despite the laughing faces of the daffodils and the appearance of other spring flowers here in the southern states, parts of the north are still buried under several feet of snow. 

Time marches on, straight into April regardless of how much snow remains piled outside the windowpanes or the nip in the early morning air that causes the daffodils to bow their sunny heads.

As Jesus walked the dusty road to the reality of Good Friday, I wonder if He felt caught in the fabric of Time. Able, yet unwilling to stop His ascent to the cross, did the web of Time seek to pull and bind Him fast to things of this world?

We look forward to the end because we know that Sunday is coming. My friend so did He.

And yet, while He went willingly, even joyfully to the cross I can hardly believe that He welcomed the pain and suffering. 

This is the lesson of Lent. A time for us to identify and dwell with Him in the suffering. A time to tend and nurture the tiny sprouts of our faith. Faith that is never quite as strong as we believe it to be.

Some years the weather helps us along, giving us just small glimpses of the hope that is to come. For even creation groans against the constraining fabric of Time.

Each year we have this opportunity to join our Lord in the slow ascent to the cross. A time to pull back and match our stride to His. To soak up His presence, setting aside our own desires for a time so we can focus more fully on Him, without distraction.

Between the dormancy of winter and the blooms of spring, growth happens in the dark, shelter of the soil. So, too, God changes us from the inside out.
And He who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." (Rev 21:5)
If your faith is feeling a bit tattered and torn, pause a moment, fall into step with Him. Take this time, as we wait for the weather to catch up with the calendar, to delight in His presence.

Allow the light of His word to prepare your faith to bloom.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Inspired by . . . unveiled faces

Choice Hotels may deny it but some people just have a certain "glow" about them. Have you noticed?

Currently, my son and DIL are glowing in anticipation of their first child. Perhaps you've noticed a certain glow about a friend or loved one after they received a marriage proposal or some other life-changing news.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.  (Exo 34:29)
Talk about life-changing!

Moses glowed so brightly that the Israelites were afraid and made him cover his face with a veil.
And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again until he went in to speak with Him. (Exo 34:33-35)

The people were afraid of the Light, the Glory of God, because it revealed their sinfulness. We are still afraid today.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Joh 1:4-5)
He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. (Joh 1:11)
 But we no longer have anything to fear. Because of Jesus we can step into the Light and live in freedom.
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2Co 3:12-18)
Today is Transfiguration Sunday. Today we recall the time when the apostles' witnessed Jesus "glow" in the presence of His Father. When they heard the Lord say, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!" (Luk 9:35)

Because of God's great love for us, He sent His Son to take upon Himself the ugliness of our sin and shame and to conquer it, once and for all.

Because of Jesus, the veil is lifted between us and God. We can live in His presence, we can walk in freedom.

As we enter this season of Lent, may we seek to "give up" those things which still try to separate us from our heavenly Father. As we remove each "thing" from our life, may we fill that void with more of Jesus until we are so filled with His Spirit that the light leaks out and makes us glow!


Sunday, February 17, 2019

"Love in all sincerity loathing evil and holding fast to the good. Let love of the Christian community show itself in mutual affection. Esteem others more highly than yourself.

With unflagging zeal, aglow in the Spirit, serve the Lord. Let hope keep you joyful; in trouble stand firm; persist in prayer, contribute to the needs of God's people, and practice hospitality. Call down blessings on your persecutors - - blessings, not curses.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in agreement with one another. Do not be proud, but be ready to mix with humble people. Do not keep thinking how wise you are." Rom 12:9-16


When I was in grade school my parents paid hard-earned money for me to attend a weekly art class at Mrs. Gilmore's house. The Gilmore's lived on the 'Mountain Road' up past the church and the room where we toiled away had large windows that let in a plethora of sunlight.

Mrs. Gilmore was an Artist, advanced of years and of diminutive posture. Stern but never mean. I remember her hands, her scissors, and lots of color. She taught us art. We worked in every medium, learned all the rules, and when to break them. I loved every minute of it!

I still have most of the art produced over those two or three years. The pages are, somewhat stuck together, in a large portfolio that I pull out and look through about once every ten years. There is maybe one piece in the whole portfolio that I look at and think, "I like this one."

I can't remember what Mrs. Gilmore thought of my attempts at art. But I can tell you with certainty that one word of discouragement never fell from her lips.

I was bitten by the watercolor bug after ordering a couple of kits from Lets Make Art. An afternoon of fun with my mom has turned into a new creative outlet for me. On a whim, I joined the Lets Make Art Facebook group and have discovered that Mrs. Gilmore's spirit lives on. 

The Lord calls us to humility. To esteem others as better than ourselves. This can be a slippery slope sometimes, especially for us women. Some Most of us tend to be overly critical of ourselves. Do guys do this? I've known a few. But as a rule, I think it is women who are most afflicted by this tool in the enemies toolbox. The 'harpies' as my friend Kimberlee calls them.

The challenge, as always, is light or darkness. I can scroll through LMA's FB group and compare my work to what I see there and decide that I will never measure up and therefore never paint again. (Or if I do paint, keep it to myself, hidden away, safe.) Or, I can scroll through looking for inspiration. Being blessed by the encouragement given and received. Filling myself with the light that is offered, allowing God to work through that light and, ultimately, pour out that light into my painting. 

The choice is mine. In everything I do I can, "With unflagging zeal, aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord."

Or not.

The harpies are gleeful when we reject the gifts God has given us and refuse to use them.
"Let us use the different gifts allotted to each of us by God's grace: the gifts of inspired utterance, for example, let us use in proportion to our faith; the gift of administration to administer, the gift of teaching to teach, the gift of counselling to counsel. If you give to charity, give without grudging; if you are a leader, lead with enthusiasm; if you help others in distress, do it cheerfully." Rom 12:6-8
Yes, it's true. Watercolor painting is not listed here as a gift of the Spirit! But consider this: the Greek word parakaleō, translated here as counseling is translated elsewhere as exhort or encourage. How often are you blessed or encouraged by the creativity of others? Whether it be a photograph, a paragraph, or a painting? 

I am. Every.single.day.

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. ~ Plutarch

And what we say matters.


PS After writing this I learned that LMA truly does have a heart for encouragement. You can learn about how they're encouraging others here:  Let's Make Art: Matter

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Inspired by . . . Good King Josiah

Note: this was supposed to be Friday's daily devotional on IG but it was too long. So before I get to Saturday's chores, I'm offering it to you here.


2 Chronicles is a bit like watching a tennis match as we go back and forth between Judah's kings who alternately did either evil or good in the eyes of the Lord. Mostly evil.

Near the end, shortly before the Babylonian invasion, we read about a boy, Josiah , who did wonderful things. He followed the law of the Lord, following in the footsteps of his forefather David, never deviating to the right or the left. Under him, the entire nation observed the Passover. Something that hadn't been done since the days of the prophet Samuel.

Then, abruptly in chapter thirty-five, we find Josiah sallying out to join a battle he has no business joining.
Necho sent envoys, saying, 'King of Judah, what do you want with me? I have no quarrel with you today, only with those with who I am at war. God has purpose to speed me on my way, and God is on my side. Do not stand in His way, or He will destroy you.' Josiah would not be deflected from his purpose but determine to fight; he refused to listen to Necho's words spoken at God's command, and he sallied out to join battle in the vale of Megiddo. (2 Chr 35:20-22)
The next verse tells us the King Josiah was shot by archers and died. Such a sad end for a king who followed God's law and led the people in righteousness. You wonder how history might have been different if Josiah had listened this last time to God's word.

So why didn't he? This king who "deviated neither to the right or the left." We can't know for sure but I think two little words give us a clue: his purpose. Josiah would not be deflected from "his purpose." He was doing what he wanted, or what he believed to be right, rather than listening and seeking God's word in the matter.

It's the piety trap. We do some good and big things for the Lord and start believing we're good and wise and just . . . just like God. But the truth is, we don't have a great track record when it comes to operating on our own, in the flesh. The enemy will trip us up every time.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Joh 15:5)
Abiding with Jesus. Reading His word and remaining in fellowship with Him through daily prayer is the only way to really be wise, and good, and just. And to ensure that His purpose, becomes our purpose.


PS I had my first experience in a bird blind last weekend - I can't wait to share it with you!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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

Always be joyful; pray continually; give thanks whatever happens; for this is what God wills for you in Christ Jesus. 

The winter birds are helping me live out 1 Thessalonians 5:16 during this wet and dreary weather we're having.

Birds have a special place in my heart and in my life. Almost every time I can recall that I've been very sick or dealing with significant issues in my life, God has sent me birds. He has spoken to me through their gentle ways. Through their complete and utter dependence on Him.

As you can see, this winter has been crispy cold. Seeing the birds all fluffed up is amusing. Knowing that He has uniquely equipped them to deal with the cold reminds me that He has provided for me as well.

The Cardinals and the House Finches may be part of my regular backyard visitors but I will never take them for granted. I never tire watching them and delight in trying to capture their beauty.

This week we had some special visitors to the yard!

The Cedar Waxwings come through only once or twice a year looking for berries. They are always a challenge to capture! This year a flock of about thirty flew through. We don't really have any good berry trees or bushes - we need to plant some!  They often stop in the Tallow and Cedar trees briefly before moving on.

These were the only two pictures I managed to capture this time around!

There is one other bird that always brings me joy. Although I'm almost guaranteed never to see one in the wild!

I'm working on this cross-stitch pattern as part of a triptych for our new grandson's nursery.

I'll leave you with a few lessons I'm learning as I stitch . . .

Lessons from a Penguin

☆Mate for Life (Matt 19:6)
☆Always dress well (Col 3:12)
☆Always wear your happy feet (1 Thess 5:16)
☆Sing to each other (Eph 5:19)
☆Never forget your loved ones (Ex 20:12)
☆Stick close together (Ecc 4:9)

What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Have a wonder-filled week, my friends!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Inspired by . . . what is brave?

I saw a very small, pale yellow butterfly while I was out walking yesterday. I'm amazed at their resilience. Butterflies need sun. Their body temperature must be a least 60-85 degrees before they can fly. So how do they endure the cold wind and rain? Personally, I would fly south. The ones that stay seem to me to be very brave indeed.

I want to be more like a butterfly.

Love God Greatly's new study is called: Choose Brave

Are you following along? 

This word, brave, does not sit comfortably upon my shoulders. I attribute bravery to people who run into burning buildings, wear a military uniform, sacrifice personal safety for the benefit of another. I've never been put in such a position but I would likely be more of a handicap than a help.

I'm no hero. But I'm no victim either. When it comes to bravery in my Christian walk, I stand firmly behind the truths of this week's study.
"But you, man of God, must shun all that, and pursue justice, piety, integrity, love, fortitude, and gentleness." 1 Timothy 6:11
Being a man or woman of God is not a passive call. We must choose each day to actively pursue righteousness.  How do we do this? Eph 6:10, "find your strength in the Lord, in His mighty power."

Each day, at every turn, we step forward with Him in mind. Trusting in His promises. Obeying His word. It's not so much, "What would Jesus do?" but rather, "What did Jesus do?" 
"Put all your trust in the Lord and do not rely on your own understanding. At every step you take keep Him in mind, and He will direct your path." Proverbs 3:5-6
God did not create us and then abandon us. He created us for good, and for a specific purpose. (Eph 2:10) He wants us to succeed! And He has promised to be with us every step of the way. Don't get tripped up by unmet expectations. People will disappoint you. God never will.
"Let us never tire of doing good, for if we do not slacken our efforts we shall in due time reap our harvest." Gal 6:9
Forgiveness is one of the hardest tests of obedience we can face as a Christian. This is especially true when the offense has caused physical or deep emotional harm. It takes a lot of courage and trust in God to forgive and process through such hurts. 

For some of us, if we're honest, our list of offenses against us is more about our pettiness and pride than any real intended harm. Unmet expectations, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings can dig deep trenches if we let them.

Dismantling our pride is hard. Humility is risky. Both are required. [click to tweet]
"Be tolerant with one another and forgiving, if any of you has cause for complaint: you must forgive as the Lord forgave you." Col 3:13
"With the Lord on my side, I am not afraid; what can mortals do to me?" Psalms 118:6
The truth is, mortals can do a lot. But our lives and our salvation are in God's care. Ultimately, our hope is in Him. The question comes down to this:

Do you believe God and His word? 
Do you trust Him?
"Have no fear, for I am with you; be not afraid, for I am your God. I shall strengthen you and give you help and uphold you with My victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10


Sunday, January 6, 2019

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

Happy New Year, friends!

2018 ended and 2019 has begun with coughs, Kleenex, and . . . well, we won't go into all our medical maladies! Suffice to say we are ready for something NEW that doesn't make us wish we bought stock in Kleenex or some prescription drug company.

January and February are the hardest months for this summer girl. This year, however, I'm determined not to let the weather (or illness) get me down. I have committed to finding at least one thing, out there, each day that brings JOY and warmth to my soul. Even on the 35 degree days when it's wet and windy!

It's been a while since I've posted a Life thru My Lens edition. Back in June of 2018, actually. I've found that I miss them. Maybe you have too.

Here is something else I'm missing . . . the butterflies of October.

I can mourn the passing of the leaves or rejoice at seeing the birds more clearly in the trees.

A gift from a friend is bringing more birds to my yard!

"Listen to your life, see it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace." - Frederick Buechner (From Now and Then and Listening to Your Life)