12/28/10

A DECEMBER SKY IN MY NECK OF THE WOODS






























This was the view on my way home from my daughter's house  yesterday evening, and I couldn't resist the urge to pull over and take some pictures.  Sadly though, by the time I found a safe spot to do that, most of the golds and oranges were gone. 

Even though the sky was still breathtakingly gorgeous, it left me wishing I had someone to chauffer me around so all I would have to do is point and click.  (SMILE)

Emjoy!

12/21/10

11/19/10

THANKSGIVING, 2010

"For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies,
... Lord of all, to Thee we raise This our hymn of 
grateful praise." - Folliott S. Pierpoint


We are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving in my part of the world, and as I sit by the window thinking of the many things I'm grateful for, I have to include the unexpected events that led to my being transplanted to this awesomely beautiful little neck of the woods.  No matter the season, I never fail to be mesmerized by the view.

About a week ago I had gone on a picture-taking walk around the neighborhood, expecting to be disappointed by what I would see, given the strong winds that came early this year, blowing many of the colorful leaves away before trees had much of a chance to display their splendor.  Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.  So much so, I couldn't stop pointing and clicking until my camera signaled it's memory was full (over 80 pictures later).

If you'd like to see some of my favorites along the route, click here.  But in this post I'm sharing the ones that made me stop and wonder at how differently the trees had reacted to the same gusts.  Whereas several stood completely bare, Some were only partially so, and yet others seemed not to have been affected at all.  Hmm.  Somewhere in here there seems to be a lesson to be learned.  

It makes me think of the way our perceptions color the way we react to the things we are presented with in life, how what causes one person to get all bent out of shape, may have no effect on another at all.  But then again, it also reminds me of the parable of the wise man who built his house upon the rock (Matthew 7:24-27).    




11/3/10

AN AHA MOMENT

I've been reading a book entitled A More Excellent Way, by Henry W. Wright, and it was what he had to say about faith and fear that suddenly triggered this aha moment for me.  Not that it was an original concept or something I hadn't already heard many times before from a variety of sources, but until last night, it never actually hit home in a way that set all the lightbulbs to flashing.

There really is no such thing as a lack of faith.  We all have faith in something.  It's just a matter of what we choose to believe.  Will it be the truth as found in the Word of God, or will it be the lies of the enemy?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Well, so is fear the evidence of things not seen, but instead of it being the substance of things hoped for, it is the substance of things we don't want to have happen to us, the substance of the things we don't hope for at all.  Light and darkness, faith and fear, two sides of the same coin. 

When we have faith, we put our trust in what the Word says about God's plan for our future.  Fear, on the other hand, is believing the lies of Satan (which usually have some element of truth mixed in so as to make it easier for him to deceive us).  When we do this, we give him the power to destroy our faith, and ultimately, the future God had planned for us.

I don't know about you, but this surely has created an urgency in me to delve deeper into the word so I won't be deceived by half truths.

 

10/31/10

IT'S NOT OVER 'TIL IT'S OVER

This spring I planted a vegetable garden on my balcony--green beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers and radishes.  At first, everything seemed to be going great.  By the beginning of summer, the eggplant was covered in purple flowers, the green beans were starting to grow, tiny cucumbers were starting to sprout, as were a couple of tiny peppers and tomatoes.  I was so excited at the prospect of the bountiful harvest to come, the thought of anything going wrong didn't even cross my mind.

However,  after a handful of beans had been picked, a couple of peppers, and my first cucumber, something peculiar started happening.  Despite the beautifully flowering plants, and no lack of bees to pollinate them, the harvest seemed to have prematurely ended.  No baby eggplants ever appeared, the few tomatoes that grew looked as though the juice had been sucked out of them, and all those little cucumbers that had started to sprout just shriveled up and died.  It was all very puzzling.

I could see there were a great deal of stink bugs around (they seem to be a plague in my neck of the woods) but I thought they were just a harmless annoyance, certainly no threat to my plants.  By the time I discovered they were actually killing them, the damage had been done.

After that, I went after them with a vengeance.  Early in the morning and at dusk I would launch my attack, vacuuming them out of pots, off the trellises, and even off the leaves of the plants they had attached themselves to.

Before I knew it, fall was officially here, and even though all hope of seeing more veggies was long gone, I still kept vacuuming up those stink bugs.  It had become a ritual of sorts, I guess. 

One day, much to my surprise, I noticed some beans in the pot, and a couple of nice, firm toamtoes that had started to grow.  I got to feeling so emotional, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.


Two thoughts started playing in my mind.  (1) It's not over 'til it's over, and (2) 1 Peter 5:8 - somewhere in the midst of this whole stink bug experience lies an important lesson about not lowering your guard in the face of something that seems harmless enough, lest you be taken by surprise when the enemy gains a stronghold in your life and you fall into his trap (my paraphrase).

I felt sure it was not over for those tomatoes, and that they would mature just as the new beans had, but days passed and turned into weeks, and still they showed no sign of ripening.  And now it's almost November, and the winds are blowing, and night-time frost has been in the forecast for days.  Sadly I decided I had been mistaken, plucked them, and tossed them into a brown paper bag.

Yesterday I looked at the beautiful view from my balcony, and even while admiring it, couldn't help feeling a tad disappointed that there would be no post entitled IT'S NOT OVER 'TIL IT'S OVER.  A bright red tomato growing in November would have made for an awesome testimony.  But then maybe this was the Lord's way of gently reminding me that He didn't need my help creating testimonies?

Anyway, it was time to start pulling the dead leaves out of the pots and start emptying them.  My granddaughter and her boyfriend will soon be coming over to help me with that task.  Why, Lord, I wondered, did you plant a title in my mind if you weren't going to manifest it?  I was so sure it had been you, and now I feel let down.  Two tomatoes artificially ripening in a brown paper bag don't count.

And then as I disentangled one of the pots and pulled it towards me, I saw it.  The Lord had not let me down after all.  He just chose to make it a surprise.


 

10/25/10

CHANGING COLORS - 2010

"...since the creation of the world His invisible
attributes are clearly seen, being understood
by the things that are made..."
(Romans 1:20)

View from my window and parking lot.   Enjoy!














9/30/10

IT'S ONLY A TEST

"He who has no sense of self-importance cannot
be offended or defeated." -- W. Phillip Keller 

This has been an interesting summer, to say the least.  It started with what felt like a crash course in Spiritual Warfare 101.  Lots of role play and pop quizzes to show me how easily my buttons can still be pushed.  Ouch!  Not what I expected at all.  And not much sympathy from some folks either, which got me to thinking how unsympathetic I can be too when I see someone reacting all out of proportion to something I don't see any reason to get upset about.

Lest I keep failing my quizzes, I'd best remember they are only tests.  The battle for our souls is very real and we are caught up in the midst of it.  There is a very real enemy out there who knows our weaknesses and tries to trip us up by using our senses and our intellect to blind and deceive us from the truth.
 
The good news is that the God who created the universe and everything in it, has not left us defenseless.  The whole battle plan is mapped out in His Book, along with detailed warnings and instructions so we won't be caught off guard, and if you don't know where in the Bible to look, click on the picture of the notebook on my sidebar under PROMISES BY CATEGORY.  It contains a whole section on spiritual warfare.  (If you're a skeptic, think product manual troubleshooting guide. Who better knows a product than the person who created it?)

My victory is in the Lord, when I keep my focus on Him and walk by faith, not by sight, when I remember who the real enemy is, and don't buy into his lies, no matter how real they may seem.  When he tries to use an unsuspecting loved one to try to push my buttons so he can drive a wedge between us, an image that helps me keep things in perspective (when I remember to use it) is that of the magician who saws a lady in half.  It may look as real as real can be, but the truth is that it's only an illusion.

When we walk in the flesh, the way we interpret the things we hear and see tends to be colored by our past experiences and it is so easy to take offense where none was intended, or to feel threatened where there is no threat, to jump to conclusions, and to experience a whole gamut of emotions as the enemy has a great time pushing our buttons and causing division and strife.

On the other hand, when we walk by faith with our focus on the Word, and we manage to remain unmoved by what we see, hear, feel, or think, we will enjoy stability, joy, and peace that surpasses all understanding--no matter what our circumstances may be.    I know it works for me.

My buttons still get pushed, but it's getting less and less, and I am increasingly amazed at how a change in perception can so alter the way you experience the things you are presented with.  If you don't believe me, try it and see.  Next time you feel slighted, hurt, or offended by something someone says or does, pretend you're playing a push the button game where you score points by not letting your buttons get pushed.  You may find it turns what could have been a painfully negative event into a pleasant game of wits instead.      

8/16/10

THERE'S A BIGGER WORLD OUT THERE

Lured by the promise of an ice cream social to follow, I joined a pretty big crowd who showed up at church last night for an evening of testimonies by members of our short-term missions teams recently returned from Haiti, China, Kentucky, and Slovakia. These folks had given up vacation time and the comforts of home to minister to the needs of people living under very different circumstances--in some cases, devastation, poverty and squalor--and couldn't wait to do it again.

All the testimonies were awesome, but what touched me the most were the the teens who shared how they went expecting one thing, and came home with a whole different outlook on life. How their perspectives were transformed  as the Lord opened up their eyes and hearts to see things in ways they had never considered before. 

One of the teens who had gone to Haiti shared her amazement at how people who had nothing could still be happy and uncomplaining.  It convicted her of the things she finds fault with back home and gave her an overwhelming gratitude for the blessings taken for granted.  Another teen choked up as he shared some of the words in a song by Matthew West, entitled My Own Little World.

When I got home I looked up the song so I could hear the rest of the words.  As I listened, I thought of the many things I too take for granted, and felt convicted by some of the stuff I tend to focus on or be offended by.  In the face of the bigger picture, it all seems so petty.  It really is not about me at all.
 
My Own Little World (Slideshow With Lyrics)

matthew west | MySpace Video

8/3/10

JAMES 3: A STORY

This is a video clip I took from Mrs. Parunak's blog -- Pursuing Titus 2.  The message  created an ouch moment for me too.
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7/18/10

TRIBUTE TO THE YOUNG AT HEART

If I make it to the ripe old age of 87, hope I'm as fit and spry as my good friend and neighbor, Gladys. Here's to an awesome lady!

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6/20/10

FLOSSIE


Thank you so much, Marie, for my Flossie.  It was exciting to have been picked as the lucky winner in your One Heart One World giveaway.

As you can see, she arrived none the worse for wear--despite her long trip across the ocean. 

These pictures were taken in her new home.  Does she look like a happy camper or what?  For sure she brings smiles to my face.

Your whimsical little card brought a smile to my face too, and I only wish the picture I took could have done it more justice.  It fails to capture all those extra little details like the sparkles and raised border.  

I hope you don't mind my adding the link to your etsy shop to this post so my bloggie friends can check it out.