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Thursday, December 15

Thursday December 15, 2011







How my heart aches, to see loved ones searching for love and joy and contentment in the world around them that is filled with immorality, vulgarity, and disregard for other people.

But I guess that is Satan's lie. And he has blinded them and taken them for fools. But they will never admit it.

How I pray that their eyes, ears, and hearts be opened and realize that true joy, and true love comes from the One who is Love. There is no joy, there is no peace, there is no salvation apart from God.

Tuesday, December 6

Tuesday December 6, 2011



Although this time of year brings out the best in many, it also brings out the worst as we seemingly defend our faith, yet often times in a way that is not consistent with how Jesus would respond.

With talk of Holiday Trees, and Santa Claus, and getting rid of Poinsettia's in public places because they remind people of Christmas - I pray we all are strengthened by the power and compassion of Christ - to reach out and share the love of Jesus with all those we come in contact with.

May we all represent Him well.

Friday, December 2

December 2, 2011


Oh, that my faith in the Mighty and Powerful Lord of All would increase, and I would look on the world and it's people with the loving eyes of the Creator.

Wednesday, November 30



One of my favorite photos. I love the little nuthatches.

Always so busy . . . constantly moving . . .

It is hard to catch them in a moments pause.

Not a care in the world . . .

Oh to have a faith that completely trusts . . .

To cast all my cares on Him.

Monday, November 28

November 28, 2011


In this month of Thanksgiving, I am so thankful to have a constant in my life.

God.

He never changes. He is always there. It is unfathomable to me  ... this ...  unconditional love He has for each and everyone of us. But, I am thankful and grateful beyond words.

It has been a difficult week as many of my closest loved ones are hurting. And this morning I am laying it all at the foot of the cross.

The things that I can do nothing about ...
... I know that HE CAN do something about.

I pray that He will comfort those in grief and sorrow, I pray He will sustain those who are in need, and I pray that He will bring the wayward home, strengthening them with the desire to trust and lean on Him for all they desire.

Thank you God - for Your steadfast love, Your faithfulness, and Your promises.

How blessed we are.


Wednesday, November 23

November 23, 2011




I find it very hard to see others the way God does. To have unconditional love for those      who continually turn their back on Him.

      Oh to have the heart and eyes of God.

      To see as He sees.

      To love as He loves.

Tuesday, November 22

November 22, 2011




(photo of and by my son Zach 2010)

He has been pretty sick the last 3 days. Not sure if it is food poisoning or a stomach bug. He is the healthy one of all of us. Hardly ever sick - and recently he ate at a restaurant and came home saying it was the worst thing he ever ate . . . and has been sick ever since . . . just can't eat a thing.

Praying he is better today.

My H - continues to have the mysterious symptoms of the illness he began suffering from  back in February. We had another trip to the ER this past week - with an overnight stay. We know his heart is good (in lots of ways :) just wish we could figure out what is causing all these crazy symptoms.

And so ... we continue to TRUST God to know what is best for all of us.
He holds the future in His  very capable hands.
So very thankful he is so trustworthy and faithful.

Thursday, November 17

November 17, 2011


It's Thursday . . .
Two more days to go till the weekend and some family time.  With everyone moving in different directions during the week - sometimes it feels like being lost and alone in a desert.

And then I feel very selfish - as I know of one who is very close to me trying to do just that. Hanging on for dear life. Trying so hard to do what is right - and yet suffering in silence as a very great toll is being taken on the family.

Please be in prayer for this sister in Christ and her family. May God be praised in this situation and may a solution come to light that is agreeable and workable for everyone concerned.


Wednesday, November 16

November 16, 2011


I don't like cats. Maybe it is because they scare me. Something about their eyes. I am very uncomfortable around them. I especially have trouble with the ones that run freely around - spraying my outdoor furniture - marking it as their own. It stinks!

But kittens are cute and cuddly and for some reason, I don't mind them.

The other day - I saw this big blob sitting on my compost. At first I thought a raccoon, and then was worried because it was day time. But it moved and I realized it was this big fluffy cat.

I  don't like it. But it does have wonderful eyes doesn't it.

Funny isn't it ... the very thing that scares me about cats - is the thing I am drawn to with this one.

I shot the photo from my deck - with my 270mm lens - so no, I didn't get to close.


Monday, November 14

Sunday, November 13

November 13, 2011


I am so very grateful and thankful - that God never changes.

I am also very grateful and thankful - that He continues to shape and mold and change me into who He created me to be.


Saturday, November 12

Thursday, November 10

Wednesday, November 9

November 9, 2011


One of my favorites from last year.
Hope you don't mind the repeat.

I think we all need a reminder to prayerfully consider our purpose in life.

Tuesday, November 8

November 8, 2011



I am smiling at you!

Monday, November 7

November 7 2011


Thankful today - that I do not have to be perfect.

That doesn't mean I don't strive to be my best for Him.

He loves me.

He loves you.

His power is made perfect in us.

Thank- you Lord!

Saturday, November 5

November 5, 2011



Today I am thankful 
for Hope!


A lilac bud -

already on the plant -

the leaves and flowers hidden away, for now -

biding time  for when they will bloom in the spring.


Encased in frost, yet protected . . .


God gives us the strength for the moments when we feel we can't go on.




Friday, November 4

November 4, 2011



Today I am very thankful for prayer!


It is so amazing to me that we have the opportunity to come before the Lord of the universe and talk to Him one on one. It is so funny how people get so excited about seeing a famous person (I do too) and yet - we forget we can have the Lord God living inside us. He is waiting for us to notice and accept and love Him. 
That is much more awesome than seeing a football player or movie star!


Heaven and Earth will pass away . . .

Thursday, November 3

November 3, 2011


November . . . The month of being thankful.

One of the songs I sing with my students in school is the "Thankful Song."
They sing,

There are many things I am thankful for
I can find them near and far.
There are many things I am thankful for
Let me tell you what they are.

Then each child gets to sing a line and share what they are thankful for.

Out of the mouths of babes . . . the precious responses.

I know if we  truly take time to list all of our thoughts of thanks, it would go on and on and on.

This morning I will start with one -

Colors

I am so thankful for the millions of colors that give variety to our lives.
Our God  is an awesome God - to create even the minute details - full of colors!

Wednesday, November 2

November 2, 2011



Photo credit goes to my son Zach who took this while in the Adirondak State Park, NY a couple weeks ago. This is from the top of Bald Mountain.

Tuesday, November 1

November 1, 2011


The lyrics to the song, "Sunrise Sunset" are flitting thru my mind this morning.

Sunrise, sunset
Quickly fly the years.
One season following another.
Laden with happiness
And tears . . .

This dried up seed head - of a beautiful Queen Anne's Lace flower from this past summer is a reminder of how quickly time flies . . . but in it - I see hope for tomorrow.

One of my favorite things of this time of year - are these seed heads. There isn't much outward beauty of them now. It is brown and shriveled, even decayed in parts, but looking deeper - into the journey that it has traveled, it once had a beautiful and delicate form, pleasing to the eye, nectar for nature . . . and now in it's present state ... it is hope for the future, with the promise of many more flowers to come.

A lesson for me this morning . . . to look past outward appearances, to find beauty within that has been brought on by the experiences and journeys traveled, to see hope for the future . . . because of the promises of God.

Revelation 21:5
"Behold, I am making all things new. And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."
And now another song is in my heart:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!




Monday, October 31

October 31, 2011

I was able to get some neat photo's yesterday of the frost . . . so thankful Buffalo didn't get the snow the rest of the east coast got. Our poor trees still have not recovered from our October 13 2006 snowstorm (click words to see photos) - when leaves full on the trees - were weighted so heavy that trees could not withstand the weight and came crashing down - it looked as though a bomb had gone off - and we were without power for days! No ... I am very happy that we didn't get the snow yet.

But as I was saying - we had a nice frost yesterday - the little flower plot neat the street has some lavender, coreopsis and begonias. The begonias were completely done in. Although the coreopsis (pictured above) was encased in frost, later in the day - it was still fresh and lovely - standing strong.

I find the quote above so true - as the sun melted the frost and the flower popped up so nice and strong and lively . . . when I am feeling down in the dumps - a kind word, or thoughtful act does so much to bring me out of the funk I find myself in at times.

A reason to make sure I am a catalyst of sharing kindness . . .


Friday, October 28

October 28, 2011

This one is a reminder to myself . . .

Practice what you preach!

Thursday, October 27

October 27, 2011

Little did I know, as I created yesterday's post, that a faithful and rock solid servant lay so close to death. Never a thought for their own earthly lives this faithful servant worked side by side with her husband in places where the gospel was not always welcomed by the governments. And yet they pressed on - working with people and bringing many to the knowledge of the Saving Grace of God.

And so today I ask that you please be in prayer for her husband and family, who have been left without her. Pray for the work that continues, and thank God for a woman who was so devoted to the Lord, an example for many - who is now safely enfolded in the arms of God . . .

Wednesday, October 26

October 26, 2011

This is one of my favorite Fall collages. Although the photo's represent the death of summer, I see in it a representation of the promise of God's provision and the promise of spring to come.

Too often I get caught up in the moment of the day - and forget that my life is just a whisper in the wind, and I am not here for my own joy, but to bring glory to my creator.

For the Lord is the great God!
The great King above all gods!
Psalm 95:3


Participating in Word Filled Wednesday HERE

Tuesday, October 25

October 25, 2011



And remember:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17





Monday, October 24

October 24, 2011



Couldn't resist getting a shot of this guy climbing down the black walnut tree next to my porch. These guys store their food in the craziest of places! But you have to admire the balancing act and the strength of the jaws. I have to add one more shot . . .



Look mom ... no hands!

Sunday, October 23

October 23, 2011


Guess I have not done so well this year - keeping up with a post a day. I admit, I have hardly taken my camera out since getting back from Europe at the end of July. Still I am struggling with getting thru all of the photos I took - and reliving the memories. We recently got our CD's and it took me back right away to the moments I treasure in my mind.

It is almost as if I want to escape the reality of the life I live. It seems I have been hiding away, a bit - finding myself lost in the world of fiction and stories. I find I finish one book and want to being another right away. I have read about 40 books since my husband bought me my kindle back in May. Kind of sad . . .

As I look back - realize that I have read the rest of my summer away - and even the month of September.

I did get my camera out last week - and went to one of my favorite trees - and captured this moment in time. Already one week later - the colors behind the tree have turned a more dismal brown and grey.

As we approach the long season of cold and darkness (when one would desire to hide away with a good book in front of the fireplace), I find I want to be back out in the life of the living - not hidden away in another time and place -

But I admit - it was the last books I have read that helped me to realize I wasn't created to hide myself away.

I have really enjoyed reading Lynn Austin's God's and Kings: Chronicles of the Kings # 1 (Friday and Saturday) and then yesterday and this morning read book #2 Song of Redemption. The story of Hezekiah in the old testament.

Oh, I know it is a fictional account and at times - some of the writings pull me out of the 'time and place' (for example: she referred to one of the characters stating that he had read the "book of Job" . . . did they even know what a 'book' was back then??) - but the desire was kindled in me to research Hezekiah - read the biblical account - read the historical accounts- see how Isaiah's prophecies fit into those moments in time - these books are a catalyst to make me search for the truth . .

"Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one,"

Words repeated over and over thru out the book. Burning a question in my mind - how many things in my life - are crowding Him out? And so the words that came to me today as I looked at the photo of my tree -

God loves us, God wants us, that is reality. He waits for us. If we only humble ourselves before Him - He will lift us up and enable us to do the work He has called us to do.

But we need to let Him . . .

Saturday, September 10

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I've been missing in action for a bit, so many photo's to process from the trip and not wanting to spend the hours needed in front of the computer. School has started. The first week (okay ... it was really only four days) is under our belt. Looks like it will be another wonderful year of encouraging and making kids feel special.

My oldest son - had a CD release concert last night and is suppose to work with a producer from the west coast at the end of the month. Their music just keeps getting better and better. Tall One is a freshman in college, has his own car and is working a part time job. He seems to be loving it. Young One is a Sophomore in High School, playing JV Football, playing fall baseball, a percussionist in the top band and this year is in the top choral ensemble as well.

My H and I have been able to enjoy some time to ourselves in the past weeks. Reminding me how important it is to cultivate and cherish and work at the relationships we have. Talking to one another, spending time with one another, knowing one another's thoughts and interests and working together to keep that relationship healthy.

That's how it should be with God. Spending time with Him, spending time in His Word, Getting to know His heart and what he wants for us, treasuring His love and provisions for us, are all ways to build our relationship with Him.

Rituals are often done mindlessly - just to complete the task. There is no love involved. I have often equated religion with ritualism. Even just getting up and going to church - because that is what you are supposed to do -

But that isn't what God wants of us. He wants to know us - and wants us to know Him. And He is more than worthy of the time and effort it takes to keep our relationship with Him healthy.

I am working on my relationship with Him - and thankful that He is always there and waiting for us to turn to Him and just accept the love and gifts he is waiting to give to us.

For more Spiritual Sunday's click HERE


Tuesday, August 9

August 9, 2011 (184/365)


An instrument we heard being played outside The Dome in Salzburg Austria


Day 2 of Europe midmorning to early afternoon is up at Composition-Life

Saturday, August 6

August 6, 2011 (182/365)

I will not deny the fact that I was totally in awe of the cathedrals in Europe. They were magnificent. They were so very old. They were gorgeous. They were filled with the music of ages past, played by the masters who created the music. They were filled with statues of saints and tombs of great leaders.

But when I sang the song "Glory to God" with the choir in the different cathedrals and church's - even though I reveled in the beauty around me and the sound that carried up to the rafters - my thoughts were on the One who I was praising in the song.

It is so easy to get carried away in the history and the magnificence of the buildings we were in and focus on the idols and obscene wealth within each of the buildings and start worshiping the beauty itself.

But I am thankful and grateful to the God to whom those buildings were built - the One who made it possible for us to travel safely and see these wonders, the One who is my Lord and Savior.

And for that I am forever in His debt.

You can check out our visit to St. Stephen's Cathedral on the morning of DAY 2 - our Europe Trip over at Composition-Life

For more SPIRITUAL SUNDAY'S click the link.

Friday, August 5

August 5, 2011 (181/365)

As I said recently, the flowers in Europe are much the same as what we have here in Western New York. You know how I love daisy's! I couldn't resist this shot - and the thought of how rain is refreshing to the soul, and how even though our trip was so exhausting - it too refreshed me in many ways.

You can check out the rest of our Day One in Europe over at Compostion-Life

Thursday, August 4

August 4, 2011 (180/365)


A Flower from the National Cemetery in Vienna Austria.
Read part II of the European Tour here: Composition-Life

Wednesday, August 3

August 3, 2011 (179/365)

A very small portion of the gardens in the back of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. A gorgeous place, to be sure. One thing I noticed was that the flowers we have here, are the same ones they have there. Marigolds, begonias, lavenders, geraniums, dusty miller, and petunia's abound. It is the lay out of that makes them so very spectacular.

I like the quote, I came across this morning, as I poured thru all of my photos. So many statues and fountains and carvings all over where we visited - and how true ... the diligence of the sculptor, hammering away, always one 'hit' away from the crack that devastates the artwork.

It makes me think of those who take the chances and go out on a limb, to live the lives they dream of. Taking a chance to create something beautiful, taking a chance to be the best they can. It is a lot of hard work as they live life on the edge.

I don't do that too often. I don't take chances - and I know I miss out on a lot.
I am glad I didn't miss out on this trip.

More info and photo's from our AMA Empire Tour Europe 2011 are over at Composition-Life.

Tuesday, August 2

August 2, 2011 (178/365)

This photo was taken somewhere between the cities of Salzburg and Westendorf in Austria. It is of course of the Alps. Although I can never say how thankful I am to have been a part of this once in a lifetime tour - for my son and I - and the whole Empire Band and Chorus, it can be a challenge when touring with 100 other people, in the sense that - you can't always get the photo shots that you want and how you want them.

You are forever at the mercy of the group (and for good reason when traveling with a large group of high school students). The staff is always concerned with their safety and of course staying together and keeping on the rigorous schedule. So often ... my photos were taken thru the window of the coach, or had lots of people in them (who I didn't know) as we, most of the time - didn't stop for photo opportunities - we quickly had to snap and keep up.

Although that is a great disadvantage for a photographer, it is a great way to get a taste of the different areas - and Lord willing - if you ever have the chance to go back - you can go to those areas you tasted - and really liked - and then have to time to really explore.

This photo was shot thru the window of the coach, as we were driving. The majesty of our surroundings were indescribable. The power of God as seen thru His amazing and beautiful creation.

I was in awe . . .

(more detail of the trip can be found here: Composition-Life)

Monday, August 1

I am Back!!

(Westendorf, Austria Thursday July 21, 2011)

Just a quick post to let you know all is well and my son and I returned from our European Tour very early this morning at 2 am. I took so many pictures (1800) and have lots to weed thru. I will be posting on our trip over at COMPOSITION LIFE as well as using photos here from the trip.

Can't wait to share the trip with you - thru the photos.

God is awesome!
Everyone is safe and sound - everything went very smoothly. There was an accident that involved the bus my son and I were on (there were 2 buses carrying 100 of us) but no one was injured - and Kudos to our bus driver who by swerving- avoided killing the driver of the car who did not stop at a stop light and ran into us.

Even the plane rides and 26 hours on the bus as we toured Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic were perfect with no anxiety on my part at all.

Working thru my jet lag, unpacking, and getting used to being home - then I will share it all with you!

Hope you are well.
I have missed you!

Valerie

Saturday, July 30

July 30, 2011 (177/365)




Tomorrow is another big day for Jacob and I and I would appreciate your prayers as we head home. It will be an extremely long day of travel. Praying for strength, a true and deep sense of peace and calm and of course safety. I can't wait to share what we have been up to with you!

Thanks!