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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens Revisited: Vol. II



"They don't smell."

It's true. The beautiful roses my husband buys for me from the local grocery store don't smell. Nor do they last for more than a few days. I enjoy their fleeting beauty and his thoughtfulness but long for something more. Several years ago we bought "knock-out roses" (found in nearly every landscaped area of South Texas) for our front flower beds. They don't smell either, my husband recently reminded me. Lamenting, "Why don't the roses smell anymore?"

I assured him that they do, you just have to smell the right roses. Soon after this exchange, I scheduled a road-trip to the Antique Rose Emporium near Brenham, Texas. The purpose was three-fold:
  • to prove that roses smell, when you smell the right rose
  • to celebrate my and my mother's June birthdays, and
  • to enjoy a safe activity away from home!


I have always loved roses. Iris' tickle my fancy and peonies take my breath away, but roses... roses speak to my soul.

I had always wondered about this affinity I had for roses which seemed to me deeper than my love for flowers in general. As Mom and I strolled through the gardens she reminded me of something that I had altogether forgotten: Every year on my birthday, my Nana would cut for me, off some wild or cultivated bush, the number of rose blooms that matched my age. 



I have a random memory of an untamed, sprawling wild rose bush at her apartment in Newbury, but no real memory of these delightful gifts she gave me each year. I wonder why?

I like to think that it is because her act of love and the roses became so much a part of who I am that my mind no longer separates them into memories.



Too romantic? Maybe. But isn't that was roses are all about?

After all, romance is about much more than the feelings between a man and a woman. It's about life, this wonder-filled world! It's about pageantry and heroic and marvelous deeds! It's what draws us into the story, to our story, and, ultimately, to His story.

It's about love in its purest form.

The slow, often painful, unfolding of our hearts to give,

and receive,

grace.



I'll leave you here. But I encourage you to keep scrolling for more views of these beautiful gardens.

Shalom,





























Sunday, June 28, 2020

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens Revisited: Vol. I

In case you're not on IG, I posted this last week:


I used to post this fun meme a couple times a month on my blog. I've haven't had much time for blogging over the last year so the last time I posted LTML was back in January of 2019.
I really miss sharing these virtual "walks" with you!

Life thru the Lens was started by my friend Lisa Kerner and I began participating back in 2015 - I did some digging and was surprised to find that since then I've posted this meme 90 times!
Social media is different now. People are looking for the perfect picture with the perfectly articulated caption.

But perhaps some of you are still willing to slow your scroll and walk quietly with a friend. I hope so. . .

Will you walk with me?




My firecracker coneflowers are attracting the hummingbirds! It's nice to capture them sipping at something prettier than my feeder.



We have one baby so far this year. Mamma is very protective!


Do you like bugs? There are a few on my kill first, look second list but as a rule I find them fascinating. These little grasshoppers have such a friendly face!


June's full moon is the Strawberry or Honey moon. I thought this capture with the cell tower in front was kind of fun.

Until next time . . .


Shalom,



Monday, June 8, 2020

Inspired by . . . small blooms





Sitting on the porch with my husband the other evening I noticed that the florist kalanchoe was starting to bloom again. This poor plant has been through so much! I bought it for my husband 4 or 5 years ago because he loved its vibrant pink blossoms. The first year it did well, doubling in size by the end of the summer. Only to be half-eaten by the deer one night.

I nursed it back to health over the winter and the presence of our new dog, Lady, kept it safe from the deer all summer. It thrived! Producing those vibrant pink blooms we love so much. Then an early frost turned half the plant black. I thought it was done for but since there were small signs of life I, once again, nursed it back to health over the winter. Only about a third of the plant was left at this point and my sporadic watering wasn't helping it much.

Kalanchoe is a succulent and doesn't like too much water. For me, Spring is the most difficult time to gauge their need for water. The transition from inside to outside makes this difficult process even harder. This year we had some cool weather late in the spring and I over-watered, drowning the poor plant and nearly doing it in for good.

But the other night on the porch I saw hope. A few, very few, vibrant pink blooms. You see, blooming takes a lot of energy. A plant that is struggling or dying is not likely to bloom. So these blooms, few though they were, gave me hope. Not just hope for the plant but hope for me. And maybe, if you're still reading, they can bring you hope, too.

In 2020 perhaps we should exchange the cliche "bloom where you're planted" to simply:

BLOOM.

Because, honestly, I don't know a single person right now who isn't struggling.
Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Rev 12:12

Have you met the three-headed dragon of 2020?
  • Pandemic
  • Economic Disaster
  • Racial Prejudice

Life in the last six months is nothing like what we thought it would be; nothing like what we want it to be.


What is our response? Be as the kalanchoe!


BLOOM!

Bloom through the raging waters that threaten to drown us, the fires that burn with unspeakable pain, the dry, cracked soil that clogs our throats, blinds our eyes, and stops up our ears.


BLOOM!


   Be kind
   Love God
  lOve your neighbor (if you're not sure who your neighbor is, read Luke 10)
shOw compassion
   Make a difference

There are many inspiring and encouraging people out there who are blooming. They are shining lights in a very dark world. We need more of these people. We need YOU to be one of these people.

Don't make the mistake of looking at them and thinking that because you can't do what they're doing that you can't do anything. Don't look at what you can't do. Instead, look at your unique, one-of-a-kind, God-given life and decide what you can do. Ask God what He wants you to do. And then do it.



It doesn't matter how big your bloom is; just bloom.

Shalom,



Monday, May 18, 2020

Inspired by . . . To whom will we go?



I wonder if this time of COVID is testing your faith? After all, life is challenging enough when we are rockin' along in our set routines. Over the last several weeks our personal routines have been intruded upon by family members, restricted by where we can go and who we can see, and flat out canceled.

For some of you the losses have been even more devastating. Yet, the struggles each of us are facing are very real and very hard.

How are we navigating the raging waters of lock-down? The inconveniences, frayed nerves, broken hearts, and fears of the virus and possible economic collapse?

A lot depends on the substance of our faith. What do we truly believe about God? His character and His promises?

Are you, like Ruth, willing to follow a God, who you have yet to fully know or understand, into the unknown of a new life and a new routine? A new normal.

Are you willing to worship and praise God as Cornelius did even when the blessings of the kingdom seemed unobtainable?

What if we were called to something really hard, like the men of Ezra's day? who were forced to send away their foreign wives and children to conform to God's law. Are we willing to trust God and follow His word when it seems contrary to moral law?

And what about our physical fears? Do we trust God for our very lives like David's friends who faced the fiery furnace? Would we witness to our enemy as God called Ananias to do?

I wonder if this time of trial has found us sitting at the table feasting with a sense of entitlement toward our Host. Rather than having the attitude of the Samaritan woman whose faith was so great that she was willing to eat the crumbs that fell at the Lord's feet.

This may be the first time that we have found the things of God to be hard. More than just uncomfortable. The first time our faith has truly been tested.

May we all be like Peter in our response, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

What about you? Is your faith being tested? What questions are you asking yourself during this time?

Blessings,

















Saturday, April 18, 2020

Inspired by . . . words of encouragement


"Constantly ask God's help in prayer, and pray always in the power of the Spirit. To this end keep watch and persevere, always interceding for all God's people." Eph 6:18 RE

Shalom,

Sunday, March 8, 2020







"My promise," he said, his voice barely audible over the crashing waves.

We stood under a canopy of palm fronds, our toes digging into the sand. The officiant wore RayBans and Tommy Bahama. I inhaled the salty air and made my own pledge.

I wasn't young or naive, but I believed those pineapple-sweet words.

*****

What do you think? did he keep his promise? did she?

We've all experienced the reality of broken promises. 

There is One who never breaks a promise. Indeed, He cannot.
God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? Numbers 23:19
He promises mercy, new every morning, so great is His faithfulness to us. (Lam 3:22-23) He promises to be with us always, to strengthen, and to guide us. (Isa 41:10; Isa 30:21)

Any temptation to doubt these truths is from the enemy and must be resisted. Immerse yourself in the Word. Meditate on it as you read, looking to God for help, guidance, and direction.

This practice will never fail you and will bring the enemy to utter ruin.

Shalom.









Sunday, February 16, 2020

Inspired by . . . a choice



The Israelites had come to the edge of the Jordan. The promiseland beckoned from the other side. Finally, after all the starts and stops and 40 years dying in the desert, they had arrived. Knowing that he would not be going with them, Moses reminds them of all that happened to bring them to this point. Then he offers them a choice:
“Today I offer you the choice of this life and good, or death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I give you this day, by loving the Lord your God, conforming to His ways, and keeping His commandments, statutes, and laws, then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are about to enter and occupy." Deut 30:15
These commandments that God set forth through Moses were neither too difficult nor beyond our reach (Deut 30:11) and yet, the Israelites did not obey. And neither do we. (Rom 7:18) God knew this. He knew this before the creation of the world. In Deut 31:21 He tells Moses, "I already know which way their thoughts incline."

Yet, instead of leaving us to muck about in the mire and be trapped over and over again by the hopeless, sinful ways we are too inclined to choose, God had a plan to save us. Once for all.
"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)
"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)
Are you ready to cross the Jordan, friend? Are you tired of fighting? Do you want to be free?

The way is not difficult or beyond your reach. In fact, it's so simple that most reject it.

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.


Shalom,




Monday, February 3, 2020

Inspired by . . . understanding through obedience





This is a picture of tracks made by a doodlebug. I wrote about these interesting creatures, that are actually called antlions, several years ago and God brought them to mind again today.

The antlion larva walks backward, creating these crazy trails that are supposed to confuse its prey and lead them into its pit. Apparently, a trail that is curvy is less suspect to an ant than a trail that is straight. Maybe. To be honest, I don't really know.

Two things I do know:

Doodlebugs, their crazy names, and silly trails are fun and reveal to us an important part of God's nature.

and

The things of God can sometimes seem confusing and complex. Almost hidden from us in some way. Often difficult to understand.

The truth is, we humans often complicate things unnecessarily. While it's true that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, He does not hide Himself from those who honestly seek Him.

Jesus said, "Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:21)

What does it mean, He will manifest Himself to us?

Manifest
adjective
readily perceived by the eye or the understanding; evident; obvious; apparent; plain:
Jesus is saying that He will make Himself obvious and understood to all who obey Him. Our obedience reveals whether or not we truly love God.

We may attend church every Sunday and be learned of the scriptures but as George MacDonald says,

Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because He said, Do it, or once abstained because He said, Do not do it. It is simply absurd to say you believe or even want to believe in Him if you do not anything He tells you.
Are we motivated to action because of our love for God? Are we patient, kind, and gentle because He told us to be this way toward our fellow-man or because it serves us best in the current situation? Do we seek to obey Him only in the ways that come easy for us or do we also sincerely try to love our enemies?

If we're feeling like a wave tossed hither and thither by the wind it may be that we are seeking Him with a divided heart.

If you're not already aware of your fault, ask Him to reveal it and cleanse it. If you're aware but not ready to confess it, ask Him to hold you back from willful sins.

Lord, cleanse me from any secret fault, hold back Your servant also from willful sins, lest they get the better of me. Then I shall be blameless, innocent of grave offense. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my mind be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer!


Shalom,




Thursday, January 23, 2020

Inspired by . . . Apprehension of beauty




The Puritan, Thomas Manton said, "Men fail to have a deep apprehension of the beauty of holiness and the excellency of Christ because they do not exercise their thoughts more upon these things." (By Faith, p.50)

When I first read this line from my nightly devotional I read it as "deep appreciation." Both, I think, are true but Manton's point is far more critical to us having a complete and correct view of the God of the Bible.

On the one hand God wants us to call Him, "Abba, Father," and come boldly to the throne of grace. On the one hand, we are co-heirs with Christ and He calls us "friend."

On the other hand, the very voice of the Lord makes the hinds calve and flames of fire burst forth while the wilderness writhes in travail! A single word from His mouth and the cedars of Lebanon shatter.

Power! Majesty! Glory!

Is this part of your understanding of God?

In a church climate that rarely speaks about personal sin or the judgment and wrath of God we can easily fall into believing that God is passive or even impotent. When nearly 45% of those who call themselves Christian don't read the Bible for themselves, it's safe to say that most are more likely to have a wrong view of God than a Biblical (right) view of God.

A "right view" doesn't just happen, it comes by "thinking upon these things." By meditating on the beauty of His holiness and excellency of Christ.
"One thing I ask of the Lord, it is the one thing I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord..." Ps 27
Anyone who believes God is love, in the hippy- 70's-love-fest sense of the word, will never be able to face and confess the truth about sin.

Salvation does not come to us by way of the wedding and wine but by the blood and cross.

The cross is Love at it's most terrible.

We do well to be apprehensive about such a display of the beauty of holiness and excellency of Christ.

Shalom,






Friday, January 10, 2020

Inspired by . . . Taking Him at His word



Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NKJV

What if 2020 is the year of REST?

Most of you will simply dismiss this outrageous statement out of hand. But for some, the words will strike a chord deep within.

R E S T

The very word spoken upon a lingering sigh is like a glimpse of heaven.

For some of us, a day of rest is hardly achievable, let alone an entire year.

But what is we took Him at His word. Even more, what if we learned to obey His word?

Come to Me.

He calls us all into His rest. How we get there will look different for each of us.

I believe He wants this for each of us and that, if we ask Him, He will teach us to fan the single chords of desire into a full song that will permeate every aspect of our lives.

Let us not be like there Israelites who refused His rest! 
Thus says the Lord : “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV
Rather, may we heed the voice that says, "This is the way; follow it."

Blessings,

Monday, January 6, 2020

Inspired by . . . bearing gifts




The child's laughter was the first sound our weary bodies heard as we ducked and entered the clay dwelling. How different this place was from our mighty palaces made of stone!

His play turned quiet as we spoke with his parents in hushed tones.
They, too, had seen the great star in the west and wondered.

His father confirmed the date of his birth. This child- king whom we had come to worship.

He came obediently to his mother's call.

As he stood before us it seemed, for a moment, that all the light of the world originated from within him. And then he was a child again but not just a child, a King and we bowed low in his presence.

I worried that our gifts would seem strange to him, a child. Yet he touched each one reverently, almost with deep sadness.

His parents said little. Thanking us simply and offering lodging as the heady scent of our gifts filled the room.

The three of us awoke the next morning from a terrible dream! We knew at once we must return to our lands by a different route and avoid returning to Jerusalem.

The child, when we found him, was with the camels. Those ornery creatures actually kneeled for once and allowed us to mount!

I could feel the child's eyes on us as we rode away.

Truth be told, his gaze never left me. I felt His presence for the rest of my life.

Shalom,








Sunday, January 5, 2020




“I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. Ex 3:6

How many depictions of Baby Jesus' face have you gazed into this Christmas? Did you feel anything of the holy hush? or the wonder of the wisemen?

Moses knew God's presence better than anyone but when he first encountered God he "hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God."

What about us? are we afraid to look at God?

I find it interesting that by the time Moses returns to the 'mountain of God' in Exodus 33 he is boldly praying to see God's glory.
So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
This man who was hiding with his father-in-laws sheep in Ex 3 is the same man who, "By faith he left Egypt, with no fear of the king's anger; for he was resolute, as one who saw the invisible God." (Heb 11:27)

Moses' life changed when he encountered the living God.

What about us? have we encountered the living God?

We're not afraid to look into the face of baby Jesus. But does the truth of Who He IS then take us to the reverent fear, the awareness of our sin that causes us to hide our face? Does it bring us, by faith, to an encounter with the invisible God and to our knees in worship?

Or do we leave Him lying in the manger?

Shalom,