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Monday, July 20, 2020

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

Hello, friends!
Welcome to another Life thru My Lens post!

Despite the heat, the birds have been very active in my yard. There are a lot of babies around right now. They aren't as pretty as their parents but they are always entertaining to watch!

You always know when the Woodhouse's Scrub Jays are in the yard. They are loud! and even the squirrels keep a respectful distance.  They are really enjoying the peanut suet.

The Northern Cardinal youngsters can be pretty scraggly looking at times. At this age, the male and female look pretty much the same except for their beaks. The female has an orange beak. So big sis is shown here feeding her little brother.

This Mockingbird baby is already as big as his parents when he leaves the nest. This guy was hiding from me under one of my rose bushes. I suspect he had gotten his feathers wet in the sprinkler and was having trouble flying.

The Scissor-tail Flycatchers are such a fun bird! I have a soft-spot for flycatchers and this one is a favorite. We have at least one pair every year, sometimes more. This year one pair and they had two babies. Things can get pretty nosey when they're out feeding.

I included this shot of one of the parents so you can see how long their tails get when they are adults. The tail separates in flight, hence their name. They are impressive to watch.

On a non-avian note, I'm enjoying my Pioneer Roses very much!  

This is Joe Woodard. He has a spicy scent that I just love!

Have a wonder-filled week, friends!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Inspired by . . . Redeeming the time

Wasn't it only just yesterday (March) when we began grappling with this new normal of being confined to our homes? just a couple of hours ago that I said, "June, already?!" and now we find ourselves securely in July, at least for the next two nanoseconds.

Numerous journal entries through the years attest that this phenomenon is nothing new, many beginning with, "I can't believe it's [insert current month here] already." Some say that whether time seems to go fast or slow depends upon your level of activity, your attention to being in the moment. But if that is true, shouldn't the intense slow down of the past four months have translated in a slowing of time as well? or at lease our sense of it? Instead, 2020 seems to be hurtling into the past at a much more alarming rate than usual.

Or is it just me?

Personally, I hold to the (possibly romantic) notion that since God is the Author of Time, He can speed it up or slow it down at His will. I mentioned this to a friend the other day and she was amused but gently dismissive of the idea.

One of my favorite lines in a fiction novel reads:
", but it was a day in which forever after James would say that time stood still; minutes had stretched into hours and hours felt like days."

Have you experienced this? I very much hope that you have, because days like that are a rare gift.

If God extends the day for our pleasure, might-en He also shorten the day to avoid pain and suffering? I believe there is evidence in scripture that suggests both:

In Joshua 10, the Lord answers Joshua's prayer: "So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day."

Matthew 24, speaking about the days of tribulation: "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened."

Regardless of my theology, one thing is certain, God expects us to be wise about how we spend our time.

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:16)
5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Col 4:5)

Redeeming the time. 

I come back and ponder this phrase at least once a year. What does it mean, anyway? to redeem time. Buy back, pay off, exchange for something more valuable, offset a shortcoming, fulfill a promise.

If time is a commodity and God is the banker, what am I doing with the time He is giving me that I can ultimately give back to Him? When God opens the ledger book with my name on it and compares the columns, well, let's just say that I'm thankful for the nail-scarred hand that will reach out and mark my account paid in full.

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Rom 8:1)

Still, that doesn't mean that I shouldn't be any less wise about how I redeem the time. And the faster time seems to pass (real or imagined) the more diligent I need to be in this area. Beloved, the sand is running through the hourglass and when it's gone . . . we don't get to flip the glass.

Let me encourage you to check your lamps for oil. Trim the wick. 

May we all be mindful of how we redeem the time we have been given.


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,


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