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Wednesday, December 25

Merry Christmas 2013!

A Very Merry Christmas is wished to all near and far!

May God bless each one of you 
with joy and peace in your hearts 
this day and all that follow.

Treasure the gift of your families!
Treasure the gifts of your friends!

Take a moment today to count the myriad of blessings each one of us has had woven into our lives. Once you start listing or counting - it is amazing the things we take for granted - things and integral parts of our lives that would be sorely missed had they not been 'gifted' to us.

Monday, December 23

Monday December 23, 2013

So grateful for the Gift of Life who came to us as a baby in human flesh.

Sunday, December 22

December 22, 2013

I was going thru all of my old Christmas posts since I started this blog - and thought I would post several today from my first year. All the photos are of ornaments on the tree or decorations I have around the house. One of my many favorites is the last - with the kneeling Santa. 



Saturday, December 21

December 21, 2013

In the last few days leading up to Christmas ... finally a chance to focus ...

Wednesday, December 18

December 18, 2013

So much to contemplate during these days of December - leading up to Christmas. 

I haven't posted much this fall (yes it is still fall) due to being layed off from my job in June and working hard to replace the much needed income.  God blessed me with a long term subbing position (and I am so very grateful to all the people who He used to help me secure this 9 month position). He also has helped me to renew my love of teaching piano lessons (I now have 13 students). So working a full time job and a part time job, being mom, wife and all that is included - has left very little time for my love of photography. I haven't picked up my camera in 3 months and it breaks my heart.

Morning is my awake time. I treasure the peace and quiet and the little bit of time I have to waste between 430 and 6 am.   Today I saw the words "God notices you smitten with this short life, feeling it slip through your fingers, trying to shake a snow globe Christmas out of every December."

The words kind of stopped me in my tracks (for the moment). How many times have I said "Joy is found in the journey ... not just the destination?"  These past few months have been a heck of a journey for me and my family.

My youngest is applying to colleges (such a pain in the neck I tell you!!) My second son is hoping to transfer to a different college as he has finally found a path to follow to prepare himself for a career. And my oldest (22) is back home again - as he continues to try and find himself ... well ... let's leave it at that.

I am literally  exhausted at the end of the day. Especially as the days are shorter and darkness creeps up on us at about 5pm. I find myself wanting to sleep by 7.  My husband and I went to the Buffalo Philharmonic Holiday Pops Concert last week. Our first date in I don't know how long ... and I practically slept thru the concert and did sleep all the way home in the car. What a great date I was!!

Anyway - before I keep rambling on - the point of this post ...

This is a challenging chapter in my life. Right now ... it is  a lot of 'work'
Instead of griping about it and worrying about what I haven't gotten done yet ... I want to focus on one step at a time. 

Yes my steps are loaded (like the snow covered ones above) and maybe yours are too. Today I get to take my youngest to a lesson at the Eastman School of music. He is thrilled and so am I. We will have and hour drive there and an hour drive home - to treasure the moments.

My oldest's car fell apart (again) - and we were able to help  get it fixed - praying he sees the need to be self sufficient and find a career. We won't always be here for him.

Traditions are wonderful - but if I don't get the cookies and fudge made, if I don't get the shopping done and all the other 'holiday stuff'  I am telling myself right now .... it is OK!

Stop stressing.   Find moments of each day to treasure and enjoy.  Don't let the traditions of the past - rob you of moments of joy - because ... you didn't get to it.

One step at a time ... and don't worry about what comes next. God has each one of us in the palm of His hand. And we need to stop jumping out - and trying to find our way. Just rest in Him - and allow Him to be the guide - and treasure the moments of His caring arms surrounding you and carrying you when you need it most.

Thursday, September 19

Tuesday, September 17

Tuesday ~ September 17, 2013

Why oh why do we put our hopes in what people think about us?  We are children of the King!

Monday, September 9

Monday ~ September 9, 2013

Even when the flowers above -  lost their petals and purple beauty - I found they have such a striking presence and still add so much value to the landscape.

Erma Bombeck's - quote made me think about the gifts and abilities that God gives us.

At one point in my life - I defined myself as a singer.  It was who I was and the purpose of my life. Oh how young and shallow I was.

Then I contracted whooping cough - and between that and my asthma - I lost my voice for about 6 months. I couldn't sing or talk - let alone breath - without horrific coughing fits. (It was a good thing this happened while I was still a stay at home mom and not employed as a music teacher).  My head voice (singing voice) was gone. My vocal cords were in spasm. I had to go to vocal therapy.

During this time I learned that I couldn't define myself as a singer anymore. I didn't know who I was.  But during my months of silence I learned.   I was a mom, a wife, a sister and a child of
God.  I learned that I had many talents: singing, playing the piano, writing music, photography, creative writing, and gardening to name just a few. 

Eventually - I found out that one of my asthma medications was causing my vocal cord paralysis, and so when I stopped taking it and switched to a different medication as well as continued with vocal therapy, my voice came back.

I guess I have taken a step back from what I learned that year.  Since being layed off from my job as a vocal music teacher in June of this year, I have been defining myself again by what I do - and yet - there are so many things I am able to do.  I think because I spent so much of my time working towards my degrees to be a teacher,  the Bachelors Degree - the Masters Degree - the 14 years experience - that - being a music teacher is what I should be doing.

But - maybe not.  I have had a hard time with the 'rejection' that comes with all of the interviews - when the schools don't see me as the person they want in the classroom. And so perhaps it is time for me to take a leap of faith and try something new.

Not quite sure what that will be yet.  But I am thankful for the time to think about it and perhaps  investigate opportunities. There are so many uncertainties.

But one thing I know for sure - I don't want to stand before God with my basket still full of talents, gifts and abilities that I haven't even tried or shared. I am looking forward to the days ahead - being able to experiment and try new things.

Sunday, September 8

Sunday ~ September 8, 2013

If you have read my blogs for any length of time, you have probably heard me say that one of the things I love most about being a photographer - is that when we look thru the eye of a camera - in our photographs we stop time and enable the viewer to pay closer attention to the details of simple everyday occurrences - we so easily walk by past - without seeing.

Take for instance this dandelion. I never knew there was so much pollen on the top of a dandelion. When I took this photo several years ago - I was amazed at what I had been missing.  If I am missing that  - on a simple wildflower (I can't call it a weed - it is simply too useful), I have to wonder what else I am missing - by not taking the time to notice.

I want to walk thru life with my eyes open, and not miss a thing.

Saturday, September 7

Saturday ~ September 7, 2013

Trying to talk some sense into myself.

God is in control. No matter the situation, He knows where the puzzle pieces fit.  Have confidence that He will be walking along side you - every step of the way - no matter what the situation, as long as you ask.

Friday, September 6

Thursday, September 5

Thursday ~ September 5, 2013

So many ways to look at our circumstances. Are you optimistic or pessimistic?  Is the glass 1/2 full or 1/2 empty?

I am thankful for those close to me  (especially a certain sister born 10/10/60)   who always help me to look at my situation thru their eyes - or the eyes of others as they go thru each day in their lives.

Is what I am going thru - helping me to learn, so that I can help others when I am in similar circumstances? Or perhaps these circumstances are drawing me closer to God so that I can renew my relationship with Him.

So today I pray for confidence to endure the craziness of life, the strength to accept the circumstances I am dealt and strive to be better every day in the choices I have control over and the way I react to the things I have no control over.

Wednesday, September 4

Wednesday ~ September 4, 2013

I just had to write a little encouragement for my friends with regards to the MANY prayers that have been offered on my behalf during this time of unemployment for me.

Please do not think your prayers have gone unanswered. They have not. I have asked God to place me where I can best honor Him and serve others. That place hasn't come yet and perhaps I am not ready for it yet. 

In the quote above the term 'lading' is a new one to me. It means loading. Our requests to God - sometimes come back with a no.  But as Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion." One of those promises we know he will keep.

Perhaps then I am still being 'loaded' (or prepared) for what is to come. And so I am thankful for the restful moments from what was my normally hectic life.  To be able to take time to meditate and pray, revel in God's masterpiece of the world, and take care of myself and my family in a better way than I have these past few years.

When my husband lost his job and was out of work almost a full year (that was about 10 years ago), we never missed a bill payment. And so I am trusting that during this time as well, there will always be enough (I can ask for extra though, right?) and our needs will be met.

Thank you my dear friends and family for your encouragement and your prayers. God is faithful.
And so I leave you today with one of my MOST favorite verses:

'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He WILL direct your paths.'  Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, September 3

Tuesday, July 9

July 9, 2013

I was wondering today - if I ever had a most favorite day. I guess there have been many. The usual ones immediately come to mind like the day I was married, and the days my boys were born. But in looking thru photos from a couple of years ago - I remember almost everything about the moment of the day when I took this photo.

It was our free day in Westendorf, Tyrol Austria. July 2011. We were in the Alps. We took a cable car ride to the top of this one mountain - where of course there was a wonderful little restaurant - where we purchased Apple Strudel. I also had the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my life - and still wish I could get some here.

But as everyone roamed around and hiked the area at the top of the mountain - I just couldn't get over how gorgeous it was to be so high in the sky - among the clouds. It was so wonderful. So peaceful ... lots of cow bells dinging ... as the cows meandered the hill.

Whenever I look at this photo - it takes me right back to that spot on the little trail - where I pointed my camera between the two tall pines and shot down towards the valley. The village below was where we were staying. The cool crisp mountain air.

The words to the song "How Great Thou Art" were on my lips that morning.

Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
consider all the works Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power thru out - the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee.
How Great Thou art!

That moment in time - takes me back to His 'amazingness'

Ah  .... if He created all of that  ... and me .... can't I trust him to take care of a little thing like having a job to pay the bills??

Yeah - I think I can.

Wednesday, May 22

May 22, 2013

Our School Budget did not pass last night. The threats of 37 more cuts (24.5 of us received our slips on Monday) is looming in the forefront of my colleagues minds.

My son, who will be a senior next year, faces the possibility of no music for him next year. With one of the top band programs in the nation, our board of education is seriously considering killing the music department (eliminating 13 more positions in the department) - but will continue to pay 6 figure salaries to teachers in other content areas.

Oh I could keep speculating and worrying - but that will not change a thing.  Worry changes nothing. It just takes our minds from the moments of joy in today.

God has all the puzzle pieces. He knows how it will all fit together.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways, acknowledge Him - and He WILL direct your paths."

Thursday, April 18

April 18, 2013

Lillacs as the buds begin to open

 We never know what the future holds. Why is it we think we do? Why do we think that life should go on - day by day ... always the same.

 Change is usually pretty challenging. It's hard in the fall to say goodbye to all the flowers as they wither and die.  But how awesome is spring with the joy of newness and possibilities.

Today I am thanking God for His constant faithfulness and the peace and comfort I have been surrounded with the last couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 11

Wednesday, April 10

April 10, 2013

Okay - enough of being sad and depressed. It's time to move on and be strong and confident and quit worrying!!

I know I am not an eagle. And guess what? Those are not eagles in the photo either. (You didn't think they were did you?) Although they look pretty when they fly - the Canada Goose  sure can be a messy bird!

But, God didn't say we would 'BE EAGLES.' He said "Those who hope in the Lord will soar LIKE eagles."

I am not an eagle.

Goodness, I am not even a bird. I don't have wings ... but I'm ready to soar.

I am ready to run and not get tired, to walk and not be faint.

I am ready to have my strength renewed.

Tuesday, April 9

April 9, 2013

I captured this Light House (called Buffalo Main Light) on our walk Sunday afternoon. 

Well, so far it is not good news. With the extra money from the state the Board of Education has restored 3 full time positions and 2 half time positions - non of which is mine.  Of course nothing is ever set in stone until September, but for now, things don't look good. 

I guess down deep inside it is bothering me, go figure. This morning my alarm went off and I fell back asleep. The next thing I knew I was in the middle of a nightmare.

It was Thanksgiving and I had to run to the grocery store to pick something up. I don't remember what I had to get - but I do know I was in a very unfamiliar area. I didn't know the store.  I parked my van and went inside. When I got in everything was strange and I couldn't remember what I had to get - so I went back outside. But when I got to where I parked the van it was gone. 

I walked all over searching for it and beeping the horn on my car key. I couldn't hear the horn - because there was music playing. I ended up meeting some folks from church - who put me in their van and drove me around until we found a van that looked like mine. They dropped me off and left .... but it wasn't my van. So I started walking again. Finally someone told me, security didn't like where I parked my van - so they moved it. 

I found the van. Got in and drove away. But that isn't the end. I ended up on a street that turned into lots of ice and water (like the photo above) on one side and thick gross mud on the other side. I was going too fast and as I tried to turn - I got stuck. It turned out that I was in some sort of a garage. Three guys came out (that I didn't recognize) and I asked them if they could help me. All they did was smile and closed the garage door (with me stuck inside) and everything went black. Then I  woke up. 

When I told Larry, I ended the story by saying - I guess I am lost and stuck. Wow - isn't that the truth right now. But as I came down to prepare my post for this morning - the first thought in my head was the Light House we had seen on Sunday. 

Light Houses were used to help the lost - and to keep them from getting stuck in shallow waters or wrecking on the rocks of the shore. 

How many times have we seen photos of Jesus being the Light House. John 8:12 says, "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Matthew 5:14-16 says this, 
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

In many foreign countries, missionaries report that people believe in dreams telling them something.  In reflecting on this dream, I can say that at times I do really feel lost and stuck not knowing how to get out of this mess, and putting my hope in people to make the difference for me.  

But I can't put my hope in people. My hope needs to be in God. 

I have a lot to think about. 

Monday, April 8

April 8, 2013

While downtown at the Buffalo Waterfront yesterday the seagulls were flying nice and low - and gave the opportunity to capture some nice 'inflight' photos.

This morning I am praying this evenings meeting brings good news - but as I have said before, I know that God is in control and that "God causes ALL THINGS to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to HIS purpose. " (Romans 8:28)

I may not be able to see what that purpose is - but how often is it that we have heard that it is thru the trials and hard times that we are drawn closer to God and become more dependent on Him.

Even yesterday we had a wonderful sermon by guest preacher and friend Vince Antonucci (CLICK HERE FOR VINCE'S BLOG)  who just wrote his 3rd book: Renegade - Your Faith Isn't Meant to be Safe.

I surely hope with God's help, we are up for whatever lies ahead.

Sunday, April 7

April 7, 2013

Wishful thinking on my part I guess. Yesterday as we drove to the grocery store I asked Larry - "When do you think "the greening" will begin? You know - when the grass starts to show new life - after the brown dullness of winter."

So this morning as I came across this photo - of one of my favorite places to photograph - the green made me smile.

As I get ready to leave for worship - the song in my heart is ... "This is the Day that the Lord has made" - no matter what today or tomorrow brings, He is in control, He makes the sun rise and set, the wind blow, the rain fall, and the flowers bloom. I will rejoice in this day and everyday - because HE IS!!!

Saturday, April 6

Friday, April 5

April 5, 2013

We drove downtown (Buffalo, NY) a week or so ago. It is only a 30 minute drive for us. But it was rainy and dark and cold. I did have my camera with me, so as we passed City Hall I snapped this photo out the window - as we passed by. (My hubby gets frustrated when I ask him to stop in the middle of the road - so this was a drive by shot).  It isn't the greatest  - but as I looked at it today, the first thought to enter my mind was the 'streets of gold' that will be in heaven.

Then my mind traveled to the verse in Revelation that says, "He is the Light and there will be no need for lights in heaven, because of that." No need for the sun or the moon and certainly no need for human inventions. Just God. Just Jesus. Just us.

No worries, no tears, no sickness, no failures, no mess ups . . .

Oh what a day that will be!

Thursday, April 4

April 4, 2013

Deuteronomy 6:4 and following:

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

 Impress them on your children. 

Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Sounds to me, that these are some pretty important verses. 

Wednesday, April 3

You Might Be Interested

I love to read! Christian and Inspirational Fiction are some of my favorites. In my 'many' years as a reader - I have come across some awesome authors. One of those is Liz Curtis Higgs.

I follow her on Facebook and her blog.  This morning I saw that she is going to put together a Wednesday Bible Study that focuses on the 20 Verses you Love Most.
After everyone comments - she will tally them and then focus on a verse a week each Wednesday.  I am so excited.  So I thought I would share it with you.  Here is the Link to Liz's Blog:

The 20 Verses You Love Most | Liz Curtis Higgs

I made the following comments on her page sharing ONE of my favorites - but definitely my 'GO TO' verse  each morning as I wake:

When the bible was written – it wasn’t divided into chapters and verses and so when sharing the scripture that inspires me and keeps my head above water during trying times (and there have been toooo many!!) I have to include both verses in Proverbs 3:5-6. The second … completes the first thought. They are my heart song. “TRUST in the LORD, with ALL your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, and HE will direct your paths.” My finite mind – cannot grasp the totality of my life and those around me. Watching parents die of cancer, having children with serious medical concerns, loss of job (facing this one for the second time right now) I see how “I think” that things are supposed to be – I set my heart on that – only to be disappointed. But with my heart set on Him – and His words, and His life, and His promises – I can have confidence that He is in control of every situation – and even though it may not be a path that I would choose – I trust that He will bring me to the place that will bring Glory and Honor and Praise to Him, because isn’t that what we are to be about?
I have been going thru some very trying times since the clock struck 12:01am on January 1st of this year. A big reason why I haven't had my camera out in a while - and haven't been posting. 

One of the major issues (there really are too many) is the looming threat of losing my job. My principal came and spoke with me in February to let me know that it looks like one music position will be cut this year (that makes 6 plus the marching band position in the last 3 years), along with 28 other teachers in the district. (That is also a total of 100 positions cut in our district  the last 3 years)  Even though they didn't know how they were going to cut the music program yet (Middle School or High School) since I am the low person on the seniority list - I will be let go. 

In 2005, after staying home with my 3 sons for 13 years (during which I created a prayer network for my local congregation, led the children's choir and vacation bible school, and led worship) my husband was laid off with no prospects of a job.  God blessed me with an awesome mother - who had told me, back in the day, to get my degree in case I ever needed something to fall back on. Well that was the time.  I was  (am) dual certified in Music Education (K-12 Vocal and Instrumental Music) and General Elementary Education (N-6) with my Bachelors Degree in Music Education and my Masters Degree in Elementary Education. 

I walked up to my sons school and got myself put on the substitute teachers list. In April of that year I was hired as a long term sub for a first grade teachers maternity leave. The following year a position opened for a part time music teacher in the district. I was hired. That led to a full time position, and 5 years ago I transferred back to the school I started at and have been there ever since. 

After a full year without work, my husband was able to find employment, but I needed to continue to work as well to help support our family. And I love my job and the kids that I work with. I always say, "There is no happier place in the world than the elementary school I work in when the halls are filled with the smiling precious faces of children." 

But we are at a crossroad again - and Proverbs 3:5-6 are my rock these days. 

I will find out for sure if my position is definitely cut on April 8.  If it will be saved - there is the other hurdle of getting the budget passed in May. They are asking for a huge tax increase. If they don't get it - they are saying that the entire music department  as well as 60 more teachers will be let go. 

And so (I normally don't post so much here - but as I come back to blogging it felt right to share what's been going on these past few months).

So finally here is my verse for today:

Tuesday, February 5

February 5, 2013

Photo shot on County Road near Goodrich.

I have to keep reminding myself of this.

Thursday, January 31

January 31, 2013

I am posting tulips from an old post - because my wonderful husband surprised me with tulips yesterday ... just out of the blue.

I am not too good at taking care of flowers in a vase  - and so I don't often get surprised with them.

We have been going thru a really tough time lately - and it was just what I needed.

So here are flowers for you - and a reminder from 1 Corinthians about Love!

PS - Do you know who Karla Dornacher is? If not - please go to her blog and check out her beautiful artwork. She has been blessed with a talent from God and shares  that blessing with us as well as the knowlegde of God's unfailing love for us.   A bonus ??? She is having a give away right now  - so go check her out!!

Karla's Website CLICK HERE 

Here is a sample of her work (used with permission of course!)

Bluebird Giclee

Angelic Trio - Love - Hope- Joy - Bible Bookmarks Digital Download Printable Clip Art and Crafting KD128

Friday, January 4

January 4, 2013

Thank you all for your prayers.
Prayers for confidence in God's promises, His unfailing love, for strength, courage, guidance and direction are all so very much appreciated and needed at this time.

Thursday, January 3

January 3, 2013

Sometimes a crisis is what you need to get you back on track.
Thanking God His promises are true.

Wednesday, January 2

January 2, 2013

"Just because the road ahead is long, is no reason to slow down. Just because there is much work to be done, is no reason to get discouraged. It is a reason to get started, to grow, to find new ways, to reach within yourself and discover strength, commitment, determination, discipline. The road ahead is long and difficult, and filled with opportunity at every turn. Start what needs starting. Finish what needs finishing. Get on the road. Stay on the road. Get on with the work. Right now you’re at the beginning of the journey. What a great place to be! Just imagine all the things you’ll learn, all the people you’ll meet, all the experiences you’ll have. Be thankful that the road is long and challenging, because that is where you’ll find the best that life has to offer.” (Ralph Marsten)

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path"  Psalm 119:105

"I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, January 1

January 1, 2013

photo taken with iphone 4S.
edited with an app called DistressedFX