Growing together in the Spirit of Jesus Christ...

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:25 NIV

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday
photo by Lee Keefer


I bet it is someone's birthday today.
Soooo, with this nut in hand for you...
I sing...
Happy Birthday to You...


And for everyone's birthday
where ever and whenever...



"On your birthday,
I wish you a year with loads of fun,
excitement and beautiful memories."

- Author Unknown

Friday, January 30, 2015

circumstances...

circumstances

"God speaks in the language you know best,
not through your ears but
through your circumstances."
- Oswald Chambers

Thursday, January 29, 2015

joy...

joy

"I recently heard a great explanation
of the difference between happiness and joy.
Happiness is dependent on outward circumstances.
Joy, on the other hand, is internal and constant.


As believers, we have an unlimited
source of joy through Jesus Christ.
We shouldn't be as concerned about happiness
which is dependent on outward circumstances.
We should have joy in the Lord
based on an internal constant -
our relationship with Him."

- Larry Jones

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

to bring cheer...

to bring cheer

To brighten her day,
I bought some of my wife's favorite flowers
for her the other day
and thought I would share
one of the blossoms here.


"The unselfish effort to bring cheer
to others will be the beginning
of a happier life for ourselves."

- Helen Keller

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

year of the sheep...

year of the sheep
cross-stitch by Faye Doyle and Darlene Frey

We will soon be in the
Year of the Sheep.
Now I put my trust in the Lord
and not any of the signs
of any human culture.

However, for those who love sheep
there should be plenty of gifts
available this year
that highlight sheep.

It should always be remembered that
sheep need a shepherd to guide
and protect them.


"I am the good shepherd;
I know my sheep and my sheep know me -
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father -
and I lay down my life for the sheep."

- John 14-15 NIV

Monday, January 26, 2015

desolation...

desolation

"I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it,
but it is sin living in me.
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me,
that is, in my sinful nature.
For I have the desire to do what is good,
but I cannot carry it out.
For I do not do the good I want to do,
but the evil I do not want to do...
this I keep on doing.
Now if I do what I do not want to do,
it is no longer I who do it,
but it is sin living in me that does it.


Although I want to do good,
evil is right there with me.
For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;
but I see another law at work in me,
waging war against the law of my mind
and making me a prisoner of the law of sin
at work within me.
What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me from this body
that is subject to death?
Thanks be to God, who delivers me
through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

- Taken from Romans 7 NIV


"Desolation is a file,
and the endurance of darkness
is preparation for great light."

- St. John of the Cross

Sunday, January 25, 2015

attitude...

attitude
photo by FD

"The longer I live, the more I realize
the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.
It is more important than the past,
the education, the money, than circumstances,
than failure, than successes,
than what other people think or say or do.
It is more important than appearance,
giftedness or skill.
It will make or break a company...
a church... a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice
everyday regarding the attitude
we will embrace for that day.
We cannot change our past...
we cannot change the fact that people
will act in a certain way.
We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do is play
on the one string we have,
and that is our attitude.
I am convinced that life
is 10% what happens to me
and 90% of how I react to it.
And so it is with you...
we are in charge of our Attitudes."

- Charles Swindoll

Saturday, January 24, 2015

clad with radiance...

clad with radiance

"There is nothing in the world more beautiful
than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow.
It is the still ecstasy of nature,
wherein every spray, every blade of grass,
every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig,
is clad with radiance."

- William Sharp

Friday, January 23, 2015

struggle and growth...


"Though the beauty may be in the butterfly,
the struggle and the growth occur
in the cocoon."

- Edward Kramer

Thursday, January 22, 2015

blessings from God...

blessings from God
(photo by FD)

Sometimes I think
for every step forward
I take two steps backward.
But that is not for us to decide.
Only God really knows our heart
and He is a merciful God
that loves us very much.
The only thing I caution everyone
is never to stand still and do nothing.



"My imperfections and failures
are as much a blessing from God
as my successes and my talents
and I lay them both at his feet." 

- Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

gratitude and growth...

gratitude and growth

Let everything you experience
be a new step forward
in your continual growth
of spiritual wisdom.


"On this day, as on every day,
we Receive ALL of Life with Thanksgiving.
We have gratitude for EVERYTHING
that has ever occurred to bring us to this moment.
We give thanks for the joys and the sufferings,
the moments of peace and the flashes of anger,
the compassion and the indifference,
the roar of our courage
and the cold sweat of our fear.
We accept gratefully the entirety
of our past and our present life."

- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

difficulty...

difficulty

No matter what may happen,
somewhere, somehow
God's Will be done,
and it will be for good.


"God will not permit any troubles
to come upon us, unless
He has a specific plan by which great blessing
can come out of the difficulty."

- Peter Marshall

Monday, January 19, 2015

the turtle with his shell...

the turtle with his shell

We all carry excess baggage.
The longer we live,
the heavier that baggage becomes.
Soon we become ships at anchor,
staying in safe waters,
never to sail far from where we are comfortable,
nursing the few things that bring us
temporary escape and some form of happiness.
Restricting us from experiencing new adventures,
we deprive ourselves of any possible new found joy.
I understand but still find it terribly sad.

Friendships are like that.
We hold on to a few
and hope not to lose any of those.
Possible new friends are kept
under constant scrutiny
as the baggage of the past
throw up new barriers for future growth
and weigh us down with imaginary storms.
Eventually, if we are not careful,
we can no longer move forward,
even if we want to.

We become like the turtle with his shell,
slowly testing each new step forward,
and retreating back to safety
with each and every new possible threat.
In time we never leave our shell.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

religion...

Religion

This old gospel center
has been abandoned for many years.
It is as effectively dead as the people
buried in the cemetery.

The church is not a building.

Let this be an icon to those
that think they can find their salvation
through their own attempts to find God.

Religion is man's attempt to find God.
The Gospel is God's plan to reach man.
Don't let religion stand in the way
of your salvation.


Thank God that your salvation
does not depend on you.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

one word challenge...


The pastor at the church we attend
challenged us, for the New Year,
to come up with one word that we would
like to concentrate on during the year.
This required a bit of biblical research...
typing the word, along with Bible,
and doing a Google search.
We were to read all the references
for the chosen word that appeared in the Bible
and then to pick out one verse using that word.
This verse would be printed and kept
in a place where we would see
it most every day.

I now challenge you to do the same thing
and, if so moved, to post your word
and verse in a comment here.
Our pastor choose the word "rest",
a word he doesn't care for all that much,
because he prefers to be busy using,
as much as possible,
his time in serving the Lord.
My first inclination was to use the word "fool",
a word and a label, I hope to avoid
but in which I still find myself
doing foolish things and making foolish choices.
Later, and on a more positive note,
I choose a second word...
"growth".


Friday, January 16, 2015

parable...

parables

The Lord teaches in parables.
This is to provide us with wisdom
that only the wise (not the foolish)
can understand and transfer to our
life-time experiences.
Think of it this way...
we have learned a lot
(and applied it)
in relation to flight
by studying flight
in God's creation.
I believe we must continually be aware
of the things we see and experience
in our lives so as to apply those things
to other situations, however far apart
those two things may be.
Here is a very simple example
from my own life.
Certain hair treatments are used
to help remove the yellowing effect
from gray hair. The product
I am thinking of is a very deep blue/purple color.


What if, in black and white digital photography,
we applied a similar idea. Adding a deep
blue/purple filter (subtly)
to the original black and white photograph.
Would the resulting image produce a desired,
similar effect.
Now I know there are tons of filters and toners
out there... selenium and sepia to name two,
but this is just an observation that I wanted to test.
Now, you may or may not like the effect, but
always pay close attention to
your experiences and to things
occurring around you.
You never know when God is trying
to teach you a parable.


Then Jesus said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."
- Mark 4:9 NIV

Thursday, January 15, 2015

nice guys...

nice guys

In my high school yearbook,
and throughout my life,
the comments most often associated with me,
were nice, friendly, and smart
(this last because I was
in the high/accelerated section).

Now those are always very "nice" comments...
can think of some I would not
want attached to my profile.
But, a part of me, always wanted to be
thought of as exciting,
very fun to be with,
or makes me laugh.

Now you have heard the expression...
"Nice guys finish last".
Well, I am an example of a "nice" guy
that finished a winner... with a wonderful family.
Still we nice guys have had
more than our fair share of rejection...
it appeared that most of the cute
(and even intelligent girls) as an example,
were looking for excitement...
you know from the "bad boys"
who paid them lots of attention,
made them laugh,
and were really fun to be with.

Oh, the girls were almost always friendly
with the nice guy and may even
spend some time with them...
at least until something or someone
more exciting turned up.
What is important however,
is not your sex appeal,
or even your friend appeal,
but your relationship
with your Heavenly Father.

He loves and wants to
spend time with all of us.
Spend time with Him...
and not just a hello (how are doing?) either...
real quality time and a lot of it.
"Any" relationship requires a degree
of trust and commitment.
And this relationship is not based on
who we are, but on who God is.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ever-growing process...

ever-growing process

Once every year, approximately,
we decide to put together a jigsaw puzzle.
This one was only 300 pieces and had
30 “whimsy” pieces... fun to find.
I choose this one because it reminded us
of the three cats we had.

Find some things you and your spouse
like to do together and do different things,
regularly... play together and laugh together.
This puzzle was called “The Standoff”...
image by Lane Kendrick
and puzzle by Pastime Puzzles.

"True love doesn't happen right away;
it's an ever-growing process.
It develops after you've gone through
many ups and downs,
when you've suffered together,
cried together, laughed together.”

- Ricardo Montalban

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

dreams...

dreams
Playing around with some filters
(difference clouds and liquify)
and an abstract photo,
I produced this creation.
...your old men will dream dreams.”
- Acts 2:17 NIV

"Dreams are like the paints of a great artist.
Your dreams are your paints,
the world is your canvas.
Believing, is the brush that converts
your dreams into a masterpiece of reality."

- Author Unknown


"You are never too old to set
another goal or to dream a new dream."

- C.S. Lewis

Monday, January 12, 2015

when it's cold...

when it's cold
(photo by Erin Doyle)

It feels so good to snuggle.
The brothers are finding more comfort
with each other since Willow,
our older female cat died recently.

Kokomo, the gray and white one here,
used to be third in the hierarchy
but now finds himself on almost an equal
footing with his brother, Zembie.


"The key to making supreme Snuggle Pudding
is mixing in enough cat."

- Jarod Kintz

Sunday, January 11, 2015

strong enough...

strong enough

Never doubt that your faith,
in God's eyes, is strong enough,
but never think of yourself as having
a strong enough faith.
When “we” believe our faith
is “strong enough”
then we have have stopped growing,
and when we stop growing,
our faith will shrink.

Growing in the faith,
and even maintaining our faith,
takes a daily concentrated effort
of prayer, reading and absorbing His Word,
and spending quality time with
our Heavenly Father.


No one has a perfect faith,
and we should never base our faith
on our own achievement instead of
on God's goodness and salvation through Christ,
but we have to be “committed” to
developing a personal relationship with Him.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

family...

family

Spend as much time as you can
with family and friends...
memories are to be treasured.


"Rejoice with your family
in the beautiful land of life!"

- Albert Einstein

Friday, January 9, 2015

sensitivity...

mono no aware

"Mono no aware (物の哀れ?),
literally "the pathos of things",
and also translated as "an empathy toward things",
or "a sensitivity to ephemera",
is a Japanese term for the awareness
of impermanence (
無常 mujō?),
or transience of things,
and both a transient gentle sadness
(or wistfulness) at their passing
as well as a longer, deeper
gentle sadness about this state
being the reality of life.”
- Wikipedia


Photography transcends superficial sight
and helps teach sensitivity.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

peace...

peace

The world outside is in turmoil...
it is not a peaceful place.
To find true peace, you must find it
within yourself. When we all find that peace within,
there will be peace throughout the world.
Peace within can only be achieved
through faith and trust in an almighty God.


"Have courage for the great sorrows of life
and patience for the small ones;
and when you have laboriously
accomplished your daily task,
go to sleep in peace. God is awake."

- Victor Hugo

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

small things...big difference...

small things
(common white clover)

When you focus on one thing,
it's amazing what God can do,
but when you miss your one thing,
it's amazing the blessings you miss.

Spending 15 minutes a day
reading the Bible... a small thing...
results in reading the complete Bible
in one year... a BIG blessing!
Spending just 30 seconds a day
with your spouse in spoken prayer
can result in a stronger relationship
with God and with each other...
a small thing with BIG blessings!


"From small beginnings come great things."
- proverb

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

a second life...

A second life

I never quite got the hang of Second Life snapshots.
I am an existing light photographer...
(light that God provides)
I do not care for manufactured light from flash,
studio lighting, or "windlight" in Second Life.

Saying that, I did like this bungalow in Second Life.
This was one of my many temp homes there.
Although it was cute, well landscaped and decorated...
it is still a "pixel" house created by human hands
and is not a real "home".
Having a house in "real life" can be a "home" too,
if it is created and lovingly
maintained by the people living in it.
Even if conditions within the real house
are less than ideal,
your "home within your heart"
can be a place of peace and joy.

No distraction or escape to a Second Life
can ever enable you to find that peace and joy,
and may even result in further distancing yourself
from ever reaching that goal,
even if providing a temporary respite.


Until we reach our Heavenly home,
we need to concentrate "all our efforts"
on healing our real life home
and seeking The Lord's presence within.

Monday, January 5, 2015

nativity and cross...

nativity and cross

If you are a Christian,
the Nativity is a feel good scene.
Even though conditions were not so nice
we still love to display the birth of Christ
in the manger, with all the animals,
the shepherds, and the star.
In many nativities even the
wise men are included.

But the birth of Christ has no real meaning
if we do not include the cross.

"We romanticize the story of Mary and Joseph
rather than deal with the painful dilemma
they faced when the Lord chose Mary
to be the virgin who would
conceive her child by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We beautify the birth scene,
not coming to terms with the stench of the stable,
the poverty of the parents,
the hostility of Herod.
Don't miss my point.
There is something truly comforting
and warming about the Christmas story,
but it comes from understanding the reality,
not from denying it.
That's the message of Christmas:
God reconciled the world to himself through Christ,
man's sin has alienated him from God,
and man's reconciliation with God
is possible only through faith in Christ…
Christmas is disturbing.

Only those who have been profoundly disturbed
to the point of deep repentance
are able to receive the tidings
of comfort, peace, and joy
that Christmas proclaims."

- William H. Smith

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's resolution...

New Year's resolution

I resolve to continue my growth in spirit,
as I continue to seek Him who first created me,
to be what I was intended to be,
to have a personal relationship with Him,
for His glory, according to His will.

“It is not because the truth
is too difficult to see that we make mistakes...
we make mistakes because the easiest
and most comfortable course for us
is to seek insight where it accords
with our emotions - especially selfish ones.”

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Saturday, January 3, 2015

wise men...

wise men

"If there is a God,
and we can know Him,
we will seek Him with all of our hearts."

This should be our attitude.

Wise men still seek Him today!

Friday, January 2, 2015

friends...

friends

"Every man can tell how many goats
or sheep he possesses,
but not how many [true] friends."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year...


"New Year's Day. A fresh start.
A new chapter in life waiting to be written.
New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved.
Answers to be discovered and then lived
in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery.
Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself
in which to dream, pen in hand.
Only dreams give birth to change."

- Sarah Ban Breathnach