More Joy

I didn’t get back to posting more joy imagery as quickly as I had originally intended, but I want to add a few more photos tonight, so I can at least say I updated my blog. I’m including some of my nature photos, among others. Taking pictures of flowers and animals and other things I find in nature really makes me appreciate creation and the Creator so much more. What a beautiful and awesome world we live in.

I took the photo at the top of this page in a field near my house that I used to drive by every day when heading to work. I’d look out and see all the wildflowers, and I hoped that I would get back there one weekend morning to get some good shots. I made it one beautiful, windy Saturday morning about a week before they mowed the field down. The photo directly above was taken at my in-law’s ranch. It’s one of the trees growing at the end of their driveway; there are several, and when they are blooming, they are so very pretty. You can get a lot of great nature shots out at their place.  

These are some tomatoes from one of two plants I grew a couple summers ago. It was just too darned hot this summer. We don’t really have a great spot for gardening, so I grew these in a pot right outside the back door. We had to raise it up off the ground so the bunnies couldn’t get to it. It’s amazing how good fresh fruit tastes, especially when you grow it yourself.

Speaking of bunnies, here’s a young one that was in our front yard recently. I know some people here get tired of them since there are so many, but we like to see them. In fact, I put old veggies, bread and stale crackers out whenever I can so they have something to nibble on. Lil’ Dawg (or Little, as I call him) likes to chase them when he goes out back, but they have holes to get out the fence, and he never does catch them.

And, speaking of holes in the fence, this is our neighbor-dog Leo, an over-sized yorkie. He likes to put his nose through the fence to say hi to Little when they’re both out back. Leo isn’t too happy these days, because his owners recently brought home a cute little girl yorkie named LuLu, and she is a bit too active for his taste. He just wants to hang out, and she wants to play. Luckily, she can’t quite get through the fence … or we might just end up keeping her. 🙂

The other day when I was out running errands, I came across this cart in front of the Family Health Market. I just loved the old-fashioned look of the cart full of blooming flowers, especially since we are now in the fall season and this kind of stuff won’t last much longer. I snapped a photo in front of the store after picking up Bart’s protein powder.

Which leads me to a photo of Bart. This is a good shot from when we were visiting his son Noah in Florida earlier this year. Bart definitely makes my joy list, and I’m happy to be able to add him to my post.
Well, I guess this will be the last image I’ll post for the night so I can get to bed. It’s already past my bedtime. And I definitely need and appreciate a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams, ya’ll. 🙂
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Live with Joy

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
~ Mother Theresa

Today’s post is more about visuals than words. In our busy lives, I think many of us forget way too often to think about and enjoy the many blessings that we have – the things scattered throughout our lives that bring us JOY.

If you know me, you know I love photography, mostly taking nature photos. Creation is such a wonderful subject matter. But I love collecting images of family and friends too. Taking photos is one thing that brings me joy. But one of the other BIG things that gives me joy is family.

There is no way I could capture ALL of the images here that make me smile, but I have tried to compile as many photos as I could into mini-collages of LOVE. [Finding all these photos takes time. So, this is just the start. I will post a part 2 with more images. And there may even be a part 3.] I hope you enjoy them.

What are some of the things that bring you joy?

Getting Back on the Horse

Okay, so my last post was in May, and at that time, I stated that I wanted to take my blog in a different direction. Meanwhile, the direction appears to have been nowhere. But appearances can be deceiving. I really have been thinking about it a lot. And I’ve come up with several topics that I want to write about.

A recent start-up blog by my friend Jane encouraged me to quit just hanging around the barn watching everyone else and get back on the horse. (To my in-laws – that’s figuratively speaking, of course; you know I don’t really like to get on the horses.) In fact, the format of Jane’s blog inspired me as well – short and sweet.  I have to remind myself that every post doesn’t have to be a chapter in a novel.

So anyway, stay tuned. No, really. I have some ideas about posting photos to share some of the things that bring me joy. I want to write a little bit about creativity (I finally got back into working on some of my crafts today – yay!). I’d like to share some thoughts and perspectives on how I cope with Fibro (or sometimes how I’m not coping, whatever the case may be). And I’ve got several other ideas brewing, but I don’t want to give all my thoughts away just yet. (Of course, I did write them down because my memory isn’t what it used to be. Well, okay, another admission to those who don’t know me that well … other than my awesome memory for work details, the rest of my memory has never been so hot.)

And to my loyal followers – please try to comment now and then. It helps us bloggers know that people really are reading and that what we type/write isn’t just for our own amusement/pleasure/edification/education/(insert your own word here). You can become a follower if you have a yahoo account; and even if you don’t have a yahoo account, you can add a comment by selecting “anonymous” – but then I would appreciate it if you would add your name at the end of your comment so I know who you are. Thanks so much.

I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

What Do I Hope to Accomplish?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog lately. I’m not sure yet if I have really found “my voice” or my niche. I’ve been struggling with figuring out what works best for me on posting specific topics or following certain formats. I believe, for the most part, that some of my content has been good and valid, but it also seems like what I have been writing is more appropriate for a paper for school rather than something directly from my heart. And I have been more worried about consistency rather than connecting. I don’t want my posts to seem like I am giving a lecture or a sermon (although many a good sermon has changed lives). 🙂 But I would like for people to want to read what I write.

So far, with most of my past blog posts, I have pre-written my copy over a few weeks time, collecting quotes and reworking the text every time I open the Word document. When I’m about done with the copy, I begin looking for photos. Sometimes it takes me longer to post something because I haven’t found the “right” images yet. I copy and paste the words into my blog and then format it, making sure to start with a photo and Scripture and end with a photo and Scripture. How crazy is that? Why do I feel all my posts need to look the same? I guess it’s the Editor in me.

Anyway, just to let you know where I am at right now, what I am writing today is fresh and current and off the top of my head. I have not pre-written any of this, but of course, I’ve given it some thoughtbecause I’m the type of person who mulls a lot of things over … and over. And I will go back and correct things while I’m working on this because I’m a perfectionist. Sometimes that’s a good thing; sometimes not so much.

My other faultwell, one of manyis that I compare myself to other writers. I read several other blogs and devotionals each week and there are many that just blow me away. They are so real and so relevant and so wonderfully written. But I know that I have my own gifts and I am not supposed to be like anyone else. However, I can learn some things from other writers. A post by Lysa Terkeurst really spoke to me recently: Lysa Terkeurst, I don’t want to be a writer.

Basically, she said “there’s a difference between writing and connecting. … Connecting is crafting words with movement. Words that stir and pop and buzz and linger and best of all mess with the reader.” See, that’s what I really want to be doing. I want to mess with you. Well, really, I want to make people who read my blogs think. I want to encourage my readers, to help people move toward or move past something. I want what I write to be meaningful, but still real, and still a part of me. I want to connect with others and have them connect with me. 

So, today’s post is my first attempt at figuring out what I hope to accomplish with my blog and creating motion, which will lead to emotion. And I will try to reign myself in. Instead of trying to make too many points and losing readers, I will file some of thoughts away. Heck, I only have a few followers anyway, and most are family members. I don’t want to lose the readers I have.

One last note, and I promise I will close today’s post out. Or as a friend often says a little too late in the conversation, “Long story short…” 🙂 The title of my blog is Everyday Moments: Celebrating Life, Love, and Laughter. To me, that sounds like it should be a lot more lighthearted than the messages have been up to this point. I’m not saying I won’t tackle serious issues about life in future posts. But, I’d like to share a little bit more of the love and laughter parts. So, stay tuned for future posts. Hopefully, you will enjoy them and you will learn a little bit more about me.

So, what can I tell you about myself or my life? What do you want to know? How can I connect better with you?  

Anxiety and Peace

I totall love this post from Roy Lessin and had to share it here since it ties in so well with the message of peace I posted the other day.

Anxiety and Peace
from Roy Lessin
Meet Me in the Meadow
http://roy.dayspring.com/2011/02/anxiety-and-peace.html

Anxiety tells you that you are in a situation that is too big for God to handle;
Peace assures you that nothing is too hard for the Lord.

Anxiety assumes the worst will happen;
Peace affirms the best is yet to be.

Anxiety points you to your inadequacy;
Peace confirms that God’s grace is sufficient.

Anxiety causes you to panic;
Peace causes you to be still.

Anxiety shows you your lack;
Peace points you to God’s supply.

Anxiety warns of defeat and failure;
Peace proclaims God’s victory and success.

Anxiety causes you to strive;
Peace causes you to rest.

Anxiety says “You will be carried away by the storm;”
Peace says “Your anchor holds.”

Anxiety fills you with darkness;
Peace floods you with light.

Anxiety tells you to first seek a solution;
Peace tells you to first seek the Kingdom.

Anxiety tells you, you won’t make it;
Peace assures you, God will bring you through.

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Luke 12:24-26, Matthew 6:33 NKJV





Peace

My sister Brenda and her daughter, Gentry
“These things I have spoken to you,
so that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you have tribulation, but take courage;
I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

How do you tell someone who just lost a son or a daughter, a spouse, or a friend that it is part of God’s plan and that eventually they will have peace about it? How does someone who daily deals with disease find peace throughout the long battle? How do you get through those difficult trials and storms of everyday life? What do you have to do or how long do you have to wait until that “magic” moment comes when despite the emotional or physical pain you are suffering, you feel that soothing sense of peace and perspective?

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

We often rely on family and friends to get us through tough times, to help us weather life’s storms. The things that they do for us can be a blessing and are often uplifting, at least momentarily—sending cards, emails, text messages, books, notes of encouragement, music CDs, food. Sometimes those are the very things that give you the strength to get out of bed and get through the day. But if you don’t actively pursue peace, although you may be sustained for a while, you won’t easily move beyond the storm to the still waters where you will find peace and serenity. Waiting for the storm to pass can take time and it can be hard.

“But nothing is hopeless. Every hurt can become a treasure. Every ending is the beginning of a fresh start. Every tear is the watering of new growth. And the only moment that truly lasts forever is the one where we say yes. Yes, Lord, you are my faithful friend — my God in whom I trust.” (C Michelle Bryant, allaboutreflections.org/finding-peace)

“I lift my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1–2

When you are ready to move past the turmoil, there is one reliable Counselor who is always ready to listen to you and walk with you and help you in your time of need, and that is Jesus. Maybe you’ve heard it said that you can cast your burdens on Him and He will carry them. But understand this: it doesn’t mean that He will take away the troubles or the pain. He will, however, lighten our loads so that we are able to bear them, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. All you have to do is ask.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:6–7

Sometimes, you don’t know how to ask or even what to ask for. After grieving or suffering for a while, you may feel disconnected from God, like He has been distant. When most likely you may have been distant from Him. Sometimes the shroud of grief or the pain of an illness or maybe the intensity of anger or hurt makes it hard for us to see Him.

“My love for you is constant: I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is you who change like shifting sand, letting circumstances toss you this way and that.” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, April 8)

“Jesus purposed to find peace among the pandemonium [of His time]. Likewise in the Old Testament, the Psalmists often list peace, calm, and quiet as gifts given to those who earnestly seek the Lord and desire to walk in His ways.” (Karen Ehman, Drowning In or Drowning Out Distractions?, Encouragement for Today, Proverbs 31 Ministries, April 8, 2011)

If you continue to seek God during your life storm and cling to Him, you may just wake up one day and feel an unexplainable peace. You’ve heard about the “calm before the storm,” but you can also find calm again after a storm. Perhaps nothing has changed about your situation, but one day you’ll just get this wonderful sense of God’s awesome presence, His power, and His love. The fog of despair lifts and you see a glimpse of sunshine. My friend Jacquelyn experienced something like that; see her recent Facebook post below.

Jacquelyn Spencer (FB post 4/2/11)
It’s interesting how this week started off so scary b/c of the “facts re: my liver biopsy.” And even though the facts remain the same & are even a little more “real” 2 me being that I’m now on the harsher chemo & unsure of the future…God has given me HIS PERFECT PEACE! What a blessing to go from FEAR (that does NOT come from The Lord) to COMPLETE PEACE in a short time solely B/C OF JESUS OUR LORD!

The only antidote to fear is faith. The courage to face our storms is not something we find within ourselves. It is the result of faith and purpose: “Drowning in so many daily distractions can keep us from hearing God’s voice. Let’s purpose together to drown out our distractions instead, and tune in to the life-giving Word. He is the only steady source from which we can ever find true and lasting peace.” (Karen Ehman, Drowning In or Drowning Out Distractions?)

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Bart’s niece LeAnne wrote one of her school papers about how she is dealing with the recent loss of her cousin, Joshua: “…the way I have started to and will continue to heal from my pain and go on in life, is by trusting in God and completely relying on Him. …
To get through this tough time, … I pray. Praying brings me closer to God, and lets me get out my feelings. I talk through the pain I am feeling with Him, tell Him I am relying on Him, and I want His help. I read my Bible. Reading my Bible also brings me closer to God. It comforts me and teaches me how to move forward.

Some people connect to God simply by reading their Bibles; they find that it brings them closer to Him. Others find strength to get past their pain and fears by pulling out and focusing on particular passages that speak to their hearts, reminding them of how much God loves and cares for them. It is not a coincidence that when you are truly searching, you will often find just the right Scripture that will envelop you in God’s embrace, where comfort and true peace can be found.

“‘though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken’ … says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)

“When difficulty hits, don’t let sound wisdom vanish from your sight. Keep your eyes on the Lord. By seeing every situation through His eyes, you can rest in His wisdom and good purposes. Then stress will lift, anxiety will be replaced with peace, and confidence in the Lord will silence your fears.” [Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries Daily Devotional, April 5, 2011, The Peace of Wisdom]

God’s peace is the result of NOT being anxious about anything. And not being anxious is the result of taking everything to God in prayer and believing … trusting … knowing that He will take care of all things. If you are suffering today due to loss, pain, guilt, anger, jealousy, or “fill-in-the-blank,” I pray that you will be open to seeking and receiving God’s peace.

My sweet niece, Gentry
“Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you.
My peace I give to you; not as the world gives,
give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled,
neither let it be fearful.’” John 14:27

She Writes

There is a special event coming up in July called the She Speaks Conference. Here is a bit of a description of it from their Web page:

She Speaks is a life-changing conference for women of every generation seeking to explore the tug on her heart to reach out to the world for Jesus. Through She Speaks, Proverbs 31 Ministries encourages and equips women who are called by God to share our mission to bring God’s peace, perspective and purpose to today’s busy woman. Sharing God’s truth with love is not only a holy calling but a remarkable responsibility. We believe by equipping women to become more effective at sharing the Word of God, we multiply our efforts to reach a hurting world with the life-transforming hope of Jesus.

I wanted to go to this last year (it’s in North Carolina), and I figured I’d get to visit with Elizabeth while she was living up there, but I didn’t fully pursue it (and now E is moving back to Orlando). Plus, I didn’t have a blog at the time, which they prefer that you link to in order to enter their scholarship contest.

This year, my friend Linda sent me the link earlier in the week and said she thought it was “write” up my alley. 🙂 So, despite this being a crazy week, I decided to take the time to post something as I would really love the opportunity to attend this conference.

Although I only have four “official” followers and the main people who read my blogs are family members and friends, I still have enjoyed using the talents that God has given me to write and to be an encourager of others. I have also enjoyed including my photography in my posts. However, I feel that I could use some guidance on going to an even deeper level in my writing so that I can really to connect to people’s hearts and be totally real and transparent in what I share and how I share. I believe some of the sessions at this event could really help me improve and reach more people.

At this conference, there are also opportunities to meet with publishers and editors and present a book proposal. I’ve talked to my friend Jacqueline several times about helping her to write a book on her life and God’s huge presence in it. This could be just the training event I need to actually make it happen.

As an avid reader and lover of words and stories, I have had a desire to be a writer for most of my life. It’s time I actually began to do something about it. So, with this post, I am entering the She Speaks Scholarship Contest. Pray for me.

Check it out yourself if you’d like: She Speaks Scholarship Contest