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Monday, February 27, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 9:52

Hello, friends. 

I'm a little under the weather, so I'll keep this brief and just share with you some of my favorite captures from the last week.

It's hard to be glum with the birds singing and twittering outside your window, so I've included links to some of their calls under each photo.

Songs and Calls


Songs and Calls

Somebody has a bald spot, lol

Songs and Calls

Somebody is grumpy because they're not getting all the suet.

Songs and Calls

My id may be off on the last two. They are either House Finches or Purple Finches. I'm going with the Purple Finch because the color extends so far down the breast. House finches tend to have color just on the upper breast and a lot of streaking down the front making them look like they're wearing little pantaloons.You can see one here to compare. They would have been easier to identify if I had some shots of his back as they are noticeably more colorful than the house finch. House finches are regulars here, unlike Purple finches, but these two may have wintered nearby and be passing through as they head north to their breeding grounds in Canada. Feel free to share your thoughts.

Also, I totally failed at the #shadesofwinter challenge this week. But if you head over to Lisa's or Kristy's you'll find lots of wonderful #wintershadow shots!

Have a wonder-filled day,

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Inspired by . . . weighted blankets

Have you heard of them? these blankets filled with plastic poly pellets, similar to what's inside Beanie Babies. Some people are calling them magic blankets because they are said to help calm anxiety, prevent insomnia and even help people with Autism and PTSD.

Reading about these blankets reminded me of a dream I had the other night. I was lying in bed and had a sense that a great, but not unbearable, weight had descended upon me. Not only on top of me but it enveloped me completely. 

This weight was not abiotic. I could sense it's spirit next to me even as it's essence surrounded me. The sense of peace was absolute. So much so that, even now, the memory of it gives me a sense of calm.

Such a perfect peace can only come from one Source. I awoke to feel as if I had been sheltered under the wings of a mighty, yet gentle bird.

He will cover you with His wings; you will be safe in His care; His faithfulness will protect and defend you. (Psa 91:4) [click to tweet]
Such is His great and mighty love for us! He longs to bring us under His protection. Yet so often we refuse and demand our own way.
"How many times I wanted to put My arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let Me!" (Luk 13:34)
God will never force us into His nest, even though He knows it is the safest place for us to be. [click to tweet] His word promises peace to all who love Him and accept His protection.
But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may exult in You. (Psa 5:11)
I've been sleeping under the weight of blankets for years. I have no doubt that these new "magic blankets" which are said to "cause[s] the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that improve moods and induce a calming effect" will improve your sleep and help reduce anxiety.

Even so, it is important to remember that it is God, and God alone, Who gives us peace and safety for our souls.
 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psa 4:8)

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

Monday, February 20, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 08:52

We had a severe thunderstorm last night. The kind that has you lying in bed thinking about where the lightning might strike and roof tiles hurtling through the air. It was impossible to sleep, the rain was lashing the west side of the house hard enough to peel paint. I imagined awakening to trees stripped of their leaves and most of their limbs, standing like naked sentinels. But they are made of sterner stuff than my imagination. We had no visible damage and, best of all, there were raindrops to photograph.

I don't have a macro lens, so it's a bit tricky. But I did get one or two worthy shots.

As promised in last week's post, the pear tree is in its dress whites this week. I wish I could share the scent with you {sigh}.

If I wasn't such a ninny I would string up a hammock and sleep under its boughs. I would dream of Narnia in the springtime and the bees and butterflies would bring me nectar for food.

Trees are so much wiser than we humans. They are older and remember things we never knew. They know things about the earth that we should have kept sacred but instead, have chosen to forget.

The great, bending oaks and still-naked hackberry don't judge the pear for flaunting its spring finery. They know God made each according to its kind.

They are wise enough to see that the individual, unique and special, is still part of the whole.

Since the pear tree and the butterflies, and the south Texas weather are determined to be more like spring than winter, the #shadesofwinter challenge is becoming more challenging by the week.

This week's prompt is #winterathome and Lisa, Kristy and the other participants have posted some lovely, snowy examples!

As I pondered this prompt and what winter at home looks like for me I kept coming back to the one thing that is constant in my home during the winter. The poinsettia.

I buy one as soon as they're in the stores and their red and dark green leaves brighten my home well into spring. Despite the fact that poinsettias are a tropical plant, they symbolize winter at home to me.

What symbolizes winter at home to you?


Sharing inspiration here:
Nature Notes, Through My Lens,
Life thru the LensOur World Tuesday,
Community Global, Photo Friday, Little Things Thursday

Friday, February 17, 2017

Inspired by . . . living the Gospel

Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth is a friend of mine. At least I'd like to think that we would be friends if we ever meet in real life. As the driving force behind the True Woman Movement and Revive Our Hearts ministry Nancy has touched thousands of lives.

I've been enriched by her bible studies over the years, and convicted and encouraged by the message in her books. I was delighted when she found love in the autumn of her life. God has a way of equipping us for our ministry, amen? [click to tweet]

I was watching the trailer for her newly released book, Adorned, just the other day. It's a beautiful video, showing numerous scenes from her wedding day. A video not unlike the one my daughter-in-law had made for her own wedding last fall.

The voice-over to the video promotes Nancy's new book, which is based on Titus 2; the scripture focuses on older women mentoring younger women. This is the true essence of Nancy's heart.

Since I was watching the video on FB, when I finished watching I moved my cursor to react to the post and noticed that among the thousands who had reacted with like or love, even wow, one person had reacted with the angry face. 

Disappointed but not surprised, I know that Nancy's message of biblical based womanhood is not embraced by everyone. But I was curious as to what the viewer could have found in the video and message that made them angry. So I scanned the comments to see if they had commented as well.

Alas, my curiosity was not to be satisfied. Perhaps they clicked on the angry face in error? That is a hopeful possibility. However, during my scan of the comments I did find one among the many good wishes and excitement about the book that gave me pause:
"You would think she's the only person that ever had a Godly wedding."
There was one reply to this comment and it mirrored my own thoughts: "What gave you that impression?" 

I sensed that this person's question was sincere so I went back a couple of days later to see if any further discussion had occurred, however, as is typical of my experience with FB, I was unable to find the post.

The negative comment and the cloud of sadness enveloping it has stayed with me. The fact that I and thousands of others can watch Nancy's wedding video and feel nothing but joy for her newfound happiness while this lady's response clearly comes from a place of hurt is a stark reminder that we don't all view life through the same lens. We can't know what this woman has gone through, or is going through that would warrant such a comment.

This post was about as far as you can get from the political arena. Yet there it was, an angry, defensive, unwarranted attack. Fairly mild, but hurtful none-the-less.

Friends, I know many of you are weary of the battle. Believe me, I'm weary too. 

Some of you feel called to debate the political [and other] hot topic issues of our day. Called to speak out against every evil you see happening in our world. If that's your calling, I salute you. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will give you the power to speak His truth with grace in love.

But if you don't feel this way - - that's okay, too. The apostle Paul didn't stand up and preach a sermon about slavery or the other evils being perpetrated in his day. 

Instead, Paul preached the Gospel. He addressed the evil in the world by pointing people to the only Solution. To the only Source of redemption and change.

And that is what we are called to do.
I [Paul] charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2Ti 4:1-2)
And why is it so important that we "be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill [our] ministry."? (2Ti 4:5)
[Because] the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2Ti 4:3-4)
That time may be here friends, but we must continue to preach the Gospel. But more than that - - we must live it.
"The gospel will not be heard and received by our culture, by our generation, by your children, by your neighbors, by the people in your workplace; the gospel will not be received if it cannot be seen in the lives of those of us who profess to believe it." ~Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
It's true that not everyone will be drawn to the Light of Christ in our lives. Not everyone will embrace the love we offer. In fact, openly living a life for Christ may open us up to more ridicule, contempt, and even persecution.

But there are those in darkness who ARE searching for the Light. There are those who WILL respond. As followers, we must try to be like-minded with Christ.

And if He is not willing that any should perish, then we shouldn't be either. [click to tweet]

Go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.* [click to tweet]


*attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 07:52

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” 
― Oscar Wilde

If this is true, it may explain why our pear tree always blooms in February. It simply cannot help itself. Every year, at the first hint of warm weather the buds appear.

Enticing beads of hope that encourage a heart already yearning hard for spring!

The stamens reach high above the petals, beckoning pollinators of all shapes and sizes. Soon the butterflies will come and my heart will be full.

We planted a new tree on this hill this past year. A Redbud. I was surprised to see it budding out as well.

Another week and its buds will be open. A blaze of cranberry against a sea of green.

Maybe it's the full moon wooing the trees into bud?

Was Friday night's eclipse visible where you were? The snow moon was beautiful, but alas my eye could discern no shadow.

I'm joining Lisa, Kristy, and friends again this week for the #shadesofwinter challenge. This week's prompt is #warmup so I had a bit of fun with some still life shots.

I'm not nearly as talented as the other party goers, so be sure to visit!

You can never get a cup of tea large enough, 
or a book long enough to suit me." C.S. Lewis

Do you follow me on Instagram? I usually post an image every day with a short devotional. I'd love to interact with you there!

What are you seeing through your lens this week?


Sharing inspiration here:
Nature Notes, Through My Lens, Life thru the Lens,
Wild Bird WednesdayOur World Tuesday,
Community Global, Photo Friday, Little Things Thursday

Friday, February 10, 2017

Inspired by . . . a terrible love

If you've lived for very long at all, you know that love hurts. Even in the best of relationships, there are times when the actions of our loved one can cause us pain.

The very nature of love demands that we hurt when our loved one is hurting. This is especially painful when the one we love seems determined to hurt themselves. There are times when we can give a loved one everything, set them up for guaranteed success, and yet through destructive behavior they tear it all down, throw it all away.

Our love, no matter how great and true, cannot fix them or their circumstances. Our love cannot save them. 

If we were to take the greatest of our human love and magnify it against a glass as big as the sky it would not even come close to the enormity of God's love for us. 
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 11:11-13)
A wonderful love, tender, and true streams out of the vastness of His resources. [click to tweet]

God's love is immeasurable. It is beautiful. It is terrible.
Love is beautiful but it is also terrible - terrible in its determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved. ~ Hannah Hurnard
It is this, terrible, aspect of His love, I believe, that so often causes us to reject Him. We misunderstand the love that He gives. The love He offers does not always look like the love we know.

God has given us everything. Including the free will to accept Him or deny Him. In every circumstance of our lives, even when those circumstances are determined by the bad choices of other people, we still have a choice.

A choice to move closer to God or to move away from Him.

Often we treat God's love in the same way our wayward loved ones treat us. Yet Jesus stands waiting at the door. Ready to enter in if we will but whisper His name.

In Ephesians, Paul prays that we might know the love of Christ, though it is "beyond knowledge."  To know the unknowable is only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit. As He enables us to understand and increase our intimate relationship with God, we are filled, more and more, with a continual filling of His love. The more we love Him the more He loves us.

We cannot out love God.

Perhaps you have a loved one in your life who is intent on a destructive path. Remember, our prayers can be the lights in the darkness that bring them home. Never give up.

Perhaps you're experiencing the terrible side of God's love in your life right now. It may not feel much like love. But I urge you to see it for what it is - a greater love than we can comprehend. A love that seeks only your best. I encourage you to humble yourself before Him, to repent. Immediately the terrible will become tender and you will see Him as He truly is.

It is my prayer that you may be able to comprehend what is the width and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.


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

Monday, February 6, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 06:52

This week I'm joining Lisa and Kristy for the #shadesofwinter challenge. Which really is a challenge since I'm in south Texas and it is definitely not #snowbeautiful (our first prompt) here!

So I'm sharing snowy scenes from our trip to Colorado last November.

It really was #snowbeautiful !

Have you taken a trip lately? Where did you go? Was it beautiful?


PS If you'd like to join us, you can find out more about the challenge here on Lisa's blog.

Sharing inspiration here:
Nature Notes, Through My Lens,
Life thru the Lens, Our World Tuesday,
Community Global, Photo Friday,
Little Things Thursday

Friday, February 3, 2017

Inspired by . . . a memory of obedience

Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of my dad's passing from this life fully into the next. I still can't think about that time without experiencing a raw, sort of tearing in my heart. But last September, on a quiet hillside in New England, a bit of healing was begun as we honored my dad by remembering his life.

Now when I think about my dad, I like to remember the days when he was strong, healthy and full of life. Much like he was in December 2005.

That time holds a special memory for me. One that has a lot to do with where my dad is today.

On a chilly Arizona night in a sparkling blue pool, my dad and I stood shivering after having acted out the symbolism behind the truth of Romans 6:1-18.

Neither of us was newly saved. But we were newly convicted.

Our church had recently hired a new pastor and one of the first things he did was to determine whether or not the believers in the church had been baptized - as adults.

Let me be clear, baptism does not save you. It is only by the shed blood of Jesus that you are saved. But scripture makes it pretty clear that publically professing Jesus as your Savior and being baptized is part of our obedient response when we believe in Him.

While it may have been my pastor who made me aware of my lack in this area, it wasn't my pastor who convicted me and made me want to do something about it.  The Holy Spirit through the scriptures did the work of conviction.

I can't speak for my dad but since I know he didn't like drawing attention to himself or swimming in December any more than I did, I have to assume that he was under the same conviction.

So what's my point? In part, I'm just sharing a special memory of me and my dad. More importantly, if you are a believer who has never publically professed your belief in Jesus and been baptized as an adult I encourage you to examine the scripture and to pray about taking this step of obedience in your own life.

For me, the experience remains a treasured memory of the past and a bright hope for the future.