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Monday, January 31

January 31, 2011 (31/365)


Kind of feeling a photographers block this last week. Everything is dirty and old snow outside. It is all looking the same to me. ANE it is cold. With my respiratory thing going on - not good to get out and take photos - so I have dug into the files.
Hope you don't mind these bright splashes of color!

Friday, January 28

January 28, 2011 (28/365)


Home sick today with a hum-dinger of a respiratory bug. Normally these things come on slowly. I felt fine most of the morning on Wednesday and an hour into the afternoon, I was as stuffed up as a turkey on Thanksgiving! I was able to go to work yesterday - but today there is no voice - not good for a music teacher - so lots of hot tea for me today!!

Okay enough of the medical report - I am just fine ... just posting a little late!

God's working on me again today. My first thought when I saw this little tree covered with snow - was how much of a load it had to bear. As a teen-ager we sang out of the old Ralph Carmichael books, "He's Everything to Me plus 153." I loved those books! One of the songs forever in my memory from those books is, "Reach Out to Jesus." The first line says, "Is your burden heavy, as you bear it all alone?" Of course, because I am in "such the mode" of linking thoughts to scriptures - the next thing that came into my mind was "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you." This is perfect ... or so I thought. It was so much more.

I wanted to make sure that I quoted the scripture correctly, and so I looked it up on Biblegateway. (Oh my friend in Wisconsin - you are gonna love this) NEITHER the NIV nor the NAS (my two favorite versions) use the word CARES.

Guess what word they use??

ANXIETY.

I am amazed. God is speaking right to me thru this project. He is amazing and completely deserving of praise - for so many things - but especially that He does not give up on us. He answers prayer. He is there for us. It is just so neat to me to see prayers being answered.

Now for those of you who don't necessarily have anxiety as your burden, I am sure there are other things that are weighing you down, just like the snow on that little tree.

I came across this neat little story you may find interesting. I found it on a website by Dr. Alex Tang (HERE). I don't know much of his doctrine (I need to go back there and read some more) - but this story is such a great illustration of dealing with our burdens. I have copied and pasted it here:

Is Your Burden Heavy?

There is an old story about three men and their sacks . Each man had two sacks, one tied in front of his neck and the other tied on his back. When the first man was asked what was in his sacks, he said, "In the sack on my back are all the good things friends and family have done. That way they're hidden from view. In the front sack are all the bad things that have happened to me. Every now and then I stop, open the front sack, take the things out, examine them, and think about them." Because he stopped so much to concentrate on all the bad stuff, he really didn't make much progress in life.

The second man was asked about his sacks. He replied, "In the front sack are all the good things I've done. I like to see them, so quite often I take them out to show them off to people. The sack in the back? I keep all my mistakes in there and carry them all the time. Sure they're heavy. They slow me down, but you know, for some reason I can't put them down."

When the third man was asked about his sacks, he answered, "The sack in front is great. There I keep all the positive thoughts I have about people, all the blessings I've experienced, all the great things other people have done for me. The weight isn't a problem. The sack is like sails of a ship. It keeps me going forward. "The sack on my back is empty. There's nothing in it. I cut a big hole in its bottom. In there I put all the bad things that I can think about myself or hear about others. They go in one end and out the other, so I'm not carrying around any extra weight at all."

What we carry around affects our spiritual life. The writer of Hebrews uses the metaphor of a runner to illustrate the spiritual life. Living the spiritual life is like running a race. We cannot imagine a marathon runner running with a sack on his or her back. That will hinder their running. A runner will do everything they can to reduce the excess weight. The writer of Hebrews advises us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” in order to run the race (Heb.12:1).

Unfortunately, many of us are like the first man. We keep before our eyes all the bad and horrible things that has happened to us; our poor relationships with other people, our bad experiences and unfulfilled expectations in church, and the horrible events that scarred our lives. What is out of sight is out of mind. We do not remember the good that others have done for us. Our focus is on the bad things which crowd our thoughts causing anger and bitterness. It is hard to run forward when there is so much negative emotional burden. The heaviness of these burdens causes some of us to drop out of the race, like those marathon runners falling by the roadside. Once down, we are contented to stay down and refused to get up. Others leave the church not realising that they are bringing their sacks with them. Still others struggle for spiritual growth yet not bearing fruits and making progress because their souls are being poisoned by bitterness and unforgiveness.

The second man keeps his achievements and things that make him feel good in front of him. He revels in his accomplishments, his wealth, his fame, and in his sacrificial service for the church. He always reminds others of his contribution to the church, and the favours he has done for others. He turns a blind eye to his mistakes, his imperfections, his idolatry, and his pride. All these he throws into the sack behind him so that he does not see them. Unfortunately what the eye does not see remains in the subconscious. The prick of conscience is a constant thorn in his side and the sacks remain heavy. Such people need great effort to run. Some can hardly walk. Every step is a struggle because of the weight of the load of the sacks they carry.

The third man fills his front sack with positive thoughts, gratitude and appreciation for people around him, and the blessings he has received. For all the gossips, slanders, and bad experiences, he forgives and forgets. He throws then into the sack at his back which has a big hole in the bottom. Thus the back sack is empty, and he is freed from bitterness, hatred, and anger. He only feels the goodness of this life and of the blessings of God. All these make his sack to act as a sail. The Holy Spirit who is like a wind blows the sail and helps him forward as he runs the race. Running the spiritual race is so much easier if we get rid of bitterness, unforgiveness, and anger. That is what Jesus is giving us when He offers us His yoke. Many of us are running like the first man or the second man. Our sacks are heavy with our burdens and they wear us out. Jesus offers, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Being yoked with Jesus is like the third man. He is like Eric Liddell, an Olympic runner in the movie Chariots of Fire who said, “God make me fast. And when I run fast, I feel His pleasure.” For Eric Liddell, however, the Olympics were not the ultimate race. The son of Scottish missionaries to China, he saw his whole life as a race: a race for the kingdom of heaven. That is why, two years after taking the Olympic gold, he sailed to China, to become a missionary himself.



Thursday, January 27

January 27, 2011 (27/365)


Some things are really interesting to learn about, but they just satisfy curiosity.
Other things are vitally important.


Wednesday, January 26

January 26, 2011 (26/365)

We interrupt these dismal blurry winter days for
a breath of clarity and a breath of sunshine!


As I was going thru my library of photo's this morning, I was getting more and more frustrated. Of late, I have been floored by some of my blog friends clear and perfectly lit bird photographs. I know I could blame it on the fact that I couldn't buy my new camera (someone needed new tires for his car - so my fund has been depleted! 2 years of saving ... now driving on the roads of Western NY), or I could blame it on the weather, you know - anything but me ...

As I looked at the shots I have taken as recently as this past Saturday morning
1. Everything is dark (our sun is hiding behind the clouds)
2. Everything is blurred (it was snowing that morning) and
3. Everything is cold (we had a delay in the start to our day on Monday due to minus 8 degree temps, windchills at minus 19) as our buses would not start. (AND I AM SO THANKFUL I DO NOT LIVE IN MINNESOTA OR WISCONSIN! I COULD NEVER LIVE IN THOSE TEMPERATURES!)

And so my favorite flower brought a bit of a smile to my face - but I must admit ... not to my heart. God is working on me this morning. My conscience is hurting. I am feeling terribly guilty.

One of my biggest faults (I have many) is - I cannot keep my mouth shut.

I always have to say what is on my mind, I always have to correct everyone else for the errors that they make - never looking at myself for being the over judgmental freak that I am.

So as I was looking for a sunny and clear quote to go with my sunny and clear photo this morning - I first searched for "breath of fresh air." One of the first quotes I read, was listed as author unknown. It said "It is far more powerful to live your truth than to preach it." OUCH! That one hit me.

Next up ... scripture search for the word Truth ... I read John 3:21-22 and felt another slap.

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:20-21)

Yes, it all came together in my mind. I am too busy pointing out everyone else's tiny specks in their eyes - while I have a huge log in my own. That is sin, that is evil. And what is worse is that I usually point out everyone else's specks ... behind their back to others. Not even brave enough for a confrontation. How can I be so awful?

Oh how I long to live in the sunshine! To have all my deeds in plain view, with nary a chance of hurting or maligning someone else. But to be known as one who builds up and encourages others. I thought that was what I was trying to do thru this site. Encouraging words, and photos and scriptures . . . and this morning, that is where the quote hurt me:

"It is far more powerful to live your truth than to preach it."

I don't want to be a person who tells everyone what to do. I want my life to be lived purposefully for God, to be an example that others can see Him in me and never doubt WHO I belong to.

Another struggle. But, the fact that I feel God pointing it out to me this morning, allowing me to feel so guilty is one way I know He hasn't given up on me. I am 48 years old and He is still working on me. Oh the joy's of being human and imperfect (sarcasm).

But one day ... one day ... we will be perfect and in His presence ... (thankfully the blood of Christ will cover our multitude of sins) and the guilt and anguish over our imperfections will be gone.

But today, I will strive to find the good, the positive in those around me, and I will tell them. I will look for the efforts and strides they are making towards the goal of being Christlike, and I will tell them.

I hope I can be encouraging to someone.

I hope I can build someone up.

I hope I can give someone hope.

I hope ... I can be like Jesus today.

Sunday, January 23

January 23, 2011 (23/365)


I don't know if it was because I was brought up in the church and have heard and learned so many scriptures in my life - but when I read the quote - immediately the verse popped into my mind as well. Sometimes I think folks - quote this verse as an excuse for the sin in their lives - "I'm no better and no worse than anyone else," but the second part of the verse - that is not very often quoted as well - is the important part. We have been given the 'way out' to become holy and enter into a relationship with God, because He made that way for us.

What decision we make at that point - is where we can glimpse our state of 'no better / no worse' than someone else.

The continued context of the passage is:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24

How very thankful I am for 'the way out.'
We are freely justified.
We are redeemed.

Thank you Lord!!


(Another photo of the same trees is here: Shimmerville/Roll )

Friday, January 21

January 21, 2011 (21/365)

(sepia tones added to photo)

Philippians 4:13 is one of those verses kids memorize as a child. I know I did. And every time I got into a tough situation in life, mom would always remind me of this verse. God gives you the strength to deal with the hard times. He is always there for comfort and strength. Cling to Him.

I needed this post today. I know God keeps His promises. I do. And I know that sometimes He doesn't answer they way I want Him to. He has a plan. I don't know all the details. But still ...

I have a war that I have been fighting in my life for over 30 years. I have clung to this verse and yet I have continued to lose every single battle. Not once have I tasted victory in this war. It wears on me - the constant struggle - feeling as though I will never win -This morning I feel very close to defeated. But I cannot surrender to the enemy.

I surrender to Christ.
To His promise I cling.
Not my time ... but His.
Not my plan ... but His.

Not my war ... it is His.
A new battle is beginning.

"I CAN do all things thru CHRIST who gives me strength."

Thursday, January 20

January 20, 2011 (20/365)

CAN YOU FILL IT IN?

So today I am curious. I love this little spot on a curvy windy road in my hometown. When I drive by - I think how much I would just love to sit on that toppled tree and dangle my feet over the brook and just absorb the solitude. Sometimes being alone ... and having time to yourself ... can be a gift.


But, when looking for a quote and scripture to go along with this photo of this little place on the planet - I came across this quote from Judy Garland. Such a talent she had - and how unfortunate that people took advantage of her as they did. But her words struck me to the core ...

If I am a legend, then why am I so lonely?

I know we have all heard the words, "one can be lonely, even in a crowded room" and I am sure that each of us has felt that at some time or another. So how did you deal with it? Is there a scripture that comes to mind - that brings deeper meaning to the quote, or is there one that provides a way out of the loneliness. Or does this bring to mind something completely different.

We are all so different - and God has enriched our ways in so many varied ways. Your words today - may be the encouragement someone else needs. You might be an "outside the box thinker."

So, today I thought I would let you respond.
What comes to your mind, when you hear her words?

Wednesday, January 19

january 19, 2011 (19/365)


I love when my yard is filled with cardinals! They are usually too far away to get a great capture - or too close to get the lighting right - thru the window and with the brightness of the snow (I have to work a bit more with my manual settings).

My first thought was the 'Birds of a Feather quote" which I found attributed to many different people back as far as the 1600's or so.

The full scripture verse (NKJ) says this:
2 Corinthians 6:14
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

I usually think of this verse in terms of marriage. How thankful I am to have married and get to share life with a believer. As my sons grow - I pray that they too will find a fellow believer to share their lives with.

It is good to have fellowship with like minded folk - to build up, sharpen and hone one another.
I appreciate each one of you - who does that for me!

Thank you for the blessings that you are in my life!

Sunday, January 16

January 16, 2011 (16/365)


My first thought when I looked at this image was the song: In the Bleak Midwinter.
Lyrics by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) Music by Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Lots of great recordings of this song on Youtube -
I love the instrumental by Loreena McKennit

Here is a LINK to James Taylor's version.
It's so easy to get caught up in the dreariness of this time of year. Here is the same area shot in the photo above - during a brighter time of year. (I need to practice more on capturing the blue sky on sunny days).


I did get the vividness in the greens (perhaps that is because I am in the blahs of winter right now). My thought to remember for today -

Jesus is the Light of the World
Even on dark dismal days - His Light shines bright within each one of us.
Spread some Sonshine today - there is a great need this time of year!


Friday, January 14

January 14, 2011 (14/365)


This photo brought to mind - many of the usual connotations - snow - clean - pure - bath - 'wash me clean' - but as I searched for something meaningful in this photo - it was this quote that struck me - as I read it this morning.

A couple of days ago I filled the bird feeders and yes ... the next day the deer had eaten everything except what was in the highest feeder :( But the highest feeder is the one the cardinals like - and there were perhaps 4 pairs (male and female) flitting and floating all over. I lucked out in this capture - as this one 'fell' into the snow and was attempting to get out.

I can't help but think ... Isn't that just like us ... well I guess I should speak for myself. Isn't that just like me. I fall - and instead of just trying to get up gracefully and not draw attention to myself - I make a bigger mess than is necessary.

I can see my path in the snow very clearly. A straight line of little footsteps - with the big steps of my parents walking with me. Yes and just like the footprints story - at times my feet disappear and only my parents are there as they carried me for a bit.

As my feet got bigger, my tracks are more solitary - but with many 'messes' as I learned from my mistakes. Often times their are huge battlefields in the snow - where I just couldn't get back up on my feet. Wow, sometimes I really made a mess. I think I made it worse - because I tried to make excuses for the failing - instead of just dealing with it and getting up.

Yes, this quote has deep meaning for me. And as I think of those who will come behind me - I need to realize I need to be a better example as I lead the way. Oh I know they will fall into the same traps - and maybe some different ones, as they create their paths - and in the same way I am continuing to learn from my mistakes - I pray that they will learn as well.

But most of all I pray they will remember that they are never alone:

I surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ~Matthew 28: 20b

Monday, January 10

January 10, 2011 (10/365)


My first thought when I saw these trees (this past Saturday), was our October Storm in 2006. We were not ready for winter on October 12 2006, we were not ready for snow. (I know many of you know the story and remember the devastation of our trees when the snow caught us with our leaves on - if you aren't familiar with it you can read about it HERE as we still see reminders of not being ready).

So when I saw these trees, I thought I can't believe they still have all of their leaves on, and I hope they make it thru the winter without too many broken branches.

Yes my first thought was the word "READY."

I searched for a scripture and found the Titus passage touching my heart this morning. It was something I needed to read today and need to pray about. Here it is in it's entirety . . .

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone." Titus 3:1-8

Verses 9-11 are important too. Here is the link to BIBLEGATEWAY where I copied the passage from.

The quote is actually the title of a song we used to sing in the church I group up in -

Are you living a life of readiness?
I've got some work to do.

Sunday, January 9

January 9, 2011 (9/365)

ummm - it sounds like I am making an excuse for using another blurry image ...
but I'm not ...
really...


The image above was taken this morning. It was a perfect snowy morning - if only the flakes were a bit bigger - the grayness and blurriness is a result of the reduced visibility because of the snow. I loved how the red barn - stood out against the gray and white.

As I looked at the photo - the word that came to me was peace, calm, serenity.

Such a scary world we live in. One cannot even take a 9 year old girl to see a member of our government in hopes of inspiring her with her new role on the 3rd grade student council.

I pray that God would bless the families of all those involved in the tragedy in Arizona. May God heal the hearts, bodies and minds of those so maliciously wounded and their families. God please comfort the families of those who are no longer with us.

I know true peace will only come when Christ returns ~ but until then I pray God would enable each one of us to have our eyes, ears, and hearts opened to those around us in all situations that we might encourage them with the peace that is available to us right now - in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, January 8

January 8, 2011 (8/365)


I have always wanted to take a photo on the overpass of one of our major roads that reaches from the far north to the far south in our locality. The problem is the overpass is also very busy and not a real safe spot to stand and get a photo.

This morning my youngest had a baseball practice at 7am - so I thought I would give it a shot. I know that it is blurry (I have been playing around with a lens that I have had for a while - but never really tried out: canon mark 1 50mm f 1/8), but that kind of helps with the thoughts I wanted share this morning.

There is no clarity in the dark. Sure, we can make out some lights that shine - but where is the True Light. If someone is searching for the Light in the Darkness - I have to wonder ... is my light shining bright for Christ - leading the way for one who is lost - or is it a blur, looking just like everyone else ... not standing out - in clarity - leading the way.

My mom always told me nothing good happens after dark. I've always remembered that. We don't belong in the dark - feebly groping around for what is true. But there are lots of folks who are right there - in the dark - and they don't even know it.

Unless they can see a difference in the lights that are lit - how will they know how to proceed?

Wednesday, January 5

January 5, 2011 (5/365)

We have a new and fresh coating of snow now, after 50 degree temps on the weekend melted all the dirty stuff left behind from the last snowfall. As we drift once again into the colorless days (here in Buffalo, most winter days have a white cloud covered sky with white snow on the ground and very little bright sunlight to illuminate the different shades of browns and yellows and reds that are there - we just can't see them in the grayness) I was looking for some color to share this morning. This one should wake all of our eyes up!



In August 2009 I did a series of photos on the (link -->)"Birth of a Butterfly" at Composition-Life after a friend of mine had given me some butterfly eggs. My sons and I enjoyed the process and I had a great time 'trying' to photograph the birth. I linked to the archive of the August 09 posts- so if you visit, start at the bottom of the page.

I also created some Mosaics of the egg, to caterpillar, to butterfly that I posted on my Collage Page - (CLICK HERE) although I have seen many photo's so much better of the process - it was thrilling to be there and watch it all happen.

What a blessing it is to know - when we leave our earthly 'limited' human form, God has blessings in store for us, that are beyond our wildest imaginations. And our new lives, will not last for just a few days or years - as the butterfly, but we will live for eternity - worshiping the King of Kings!

Tuesday, January 4

January 4, 2011 (4/365)


So probably after reading the quote - you may have thought yes ... "Love your neighbor as yourself" from Romans 13:9 or Galatians 5:14. But this year - I am going to try not to repeat verses from last year. Now that I have said that, who knows what tomorrow will bring and maybe I will do just that - from last year - but I am going to try .

This passage from Romans was beautiful in context:

Romans 15:1-13 (I kept trying to cut it off but the whole text was so good)

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”

Again, it says,

“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.
"

And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Saturday, January 1

January 1, 2011 (1/365)

Welcome to Intelligent Expressions 2011!
Happy New Year!


Last year each post contained: 1 photo, 1 scripture, and 1 quote every day. My goal for this year is similar - I plan to post one photo everyday, but I will leave the rest of what it includes . . . to how the project comes together each day.

I am praying that this year, each one of us will grow closer to God in ways that will allow us to bring Glory to Him in all that we do. This is just a small part . . . to help me ponder and . . . to perhaps inspire others to think about Him, what He has said, what He has done, and what He has promised. I appreciate any of your thoughts as you read - they help me to think deeper as well!

As we start this new year, I wanted a photo that represented New Beginnings. This one - I took of a sunrise a few miles down the road from my home in April of 2010.

Being totally honest here, can I say I really have a problem with New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I think those of you who have lost someone close may understand best why I feel this way. I feel like every year at this time - I have to say good bye all over again, as we move one more year away from the last time i was able to share in their company. I feel like I am leaving them further and further behind.

It is also one more step on the road to independence for my children.
And of course one more year closer to the end of my life.

I know there are bright sides to all of those situations - it is just hard for me to think past the sad sometimes. And that is why I wanted to post this -

It is a reminder to me. Even though we start a new - it really is just a continuation of who we are. And we are ... who we are ... because of those who we have loved and the influences they have had on our lives. We carry them with us. and ...

HE is with us - thru it all.
He promised.
He keeps His promises!

What an awesome God we serve. I am looking forward to seeing how He will work thru each one of us in this year ahead.