Weekly Photo Challenge

Photo Challenge:    This week show us something you’re optimistic about, or perhaps a talisman that helps you stay positive and hopeful, regardless of what life throws your way.  

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I look up to the hills,
    but where will my help really come from?
 My help will come from the Lord,
    the Creator of heaven and earth.  (Psalms 121:1-2)

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Send your light and your truth to guide me,
    to lead me to your holy mountain, to your home.  (Psalms 43:3)

Life always seems a little better when I look to the mountains.

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A Walk Through the Book of Psalms

[Welcome to my verse by verse walk through the book of Psalms.  If you’d like to read other posts in this series click on “Walk Through Psalms” under categories.]

A Thrashing at the Threshing Floor 

Araunahs Threshing Floor

Psalms 1:4-6 (ERV)

But the wicked are not like that.
    They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
 When the time for judgment comes, the wicked will be found guilty.
    Sinners have no place among those who do what is right.
 The Lord shows his people how to live,
    but the wicked have lost their way.

In comparison to the previous verse, verse 4 of Psalms 1, takes a much darker turn.  The reader is taken from a place of calm and thrust into a place of testing and unrest.  In biblical times the threshing floor was the place where the grains of wheat were separated from the chaff, a dry, scaly protective covering.  This laborious task was done by beating the grain with a flail, or walking donkeys and oxen in circles, over the grain spread upon a hard surface.  Once the threshing was complete, the grain was tossed into the air, for the dry, inedible husk, to be caught by the wind and blown away.

Sometimes, my life is much like a threshing floor.  I’m tossed to and fro, walked upon and beat down.  Debt collectors have my number on speed dial.  Chronic sickness stalks me like the Mucinex phlegm man.  I’m jobless.  Who wants to hire a fifty year old without a college degree?  I am shunned by some because of my orientation.  I eat to lighten a hovering cloud of depression, and as a result, I find myself 30 pounds overweight. So, yep…I’d say, I’m taking a thrashing at the threshing floor.

Throughout the bible, the threshing floor represents a place of judgement but strangely enough, it could also be seen as a place of blessing.

An interesting story, from the old testament, tells of a man and his four sons, who were out threshing their wheat.  The man looked up to see an angel, standing by the threshing floor, fierce and wielding a sword.  Of course, the man and his sons became afraid, so they hid from the presence of the angel.  Peeping from their hiding place, they noticed the angel lower his sword.  When the angel was gone, the man and his four sons left the hiding place and came back to the threshing floor.  They see David, king of the Israelites, waiting for them.  The king inquired about the purchase of the man’s threshing floor. They learn that King David, had previously sinned against God, and so as punishment, God had sent the angel to bring pestilence to the land.  Once David repented from his sin, God stayed the hand of the angel, so that the punishment stopped.  God then instructs David to build an alter upon the man’s threshing floor.  The man readily sells his property to David and so the place of judgment became a place of worship and blessing.  (I Chronicles 21)

Also, in the book of Ruth, it was at a threshing floor that Ruth disclosed her romantic interest in Boaz.  As a result of their union, some 1300 years later, Jesus, the greatest gift ever given, was born to take away the sins of the world.  (Ruth 3) (Matthew 1:1-16)  The scene, between them at the threshing floor, led to a place of blessing within a manger.

My challenge, when my life is being sifted as wheat, (Luke 22:31-32) is not to lose faith but believe that God will somehow…someway bring blessing to my life.  Luke 22:32 tells us that Jesus, himself, prays for us during our time of testing.  So that we, through the trial, will come out stronger in our faith and able to help the suffering world all around us.

The words from Psalms 1:6, “The Lord shows his people how to live…” assures us that He, not only knows about our struggles, but that He will guide us through them unto the other side.

My Prayer:  Lord, I don’t understand why things happen the way they do in my life, but I do know that you are in control, and in the end, you will bring blessings to my life.  Help me, Jesus, to keep my eyes upon you, and not on my problems.  Sometimes, that is hard to do when life becomes so painful.  Please, Lord, remind me of the power of prayer, and of the strength, waiting to be found, within your word.  May I, be careful to, meditate therein day and night.  Amen.

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from it’s sunshine
For it’s skies may turn to grey.

I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden’s getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.

There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

I don’t know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.

And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand…

(Words by Ira Stanphill, 1950)

A Walk Through the Book of Psalms: Psalms 1:3

[I’d love to invite you to my “verse by verse” walk through the book of Psalms.  On this journey, my intentions will be to take one verse at a time and journal my thoughts here, in a series I’ve entitled, “A Walk Through the Book of Psalms.”  So please stop by every Tuesday and Wednesday and walk with me on this journey.  Also, if you’ve an interest to read the previous posts, look under the categories section, to the right, and click on “Walk Through Psalms”]

Psalms 1:3

And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].  [AMP]

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The artist in me, longs to paint the beautiful scene, shared here in verse three.  I would be careful, to lay to canvas, a magnificent tree…full of ripe fruit, nestled within thick, lush grass of green, growing by a brook of waters, clear and blue.  As I visualize the words of the writer (Perhaps David or his son Solomon) I’m transported to a place of comfort, a place of peace and a place full of nourishment.

Thinking about these rivers of waters, I’m reminded of the words Jesus spoke, to a woman at a well, so long ago; “…whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.” (John 4:14)(AMP)  Approximately a week later, in Jerusalem “on the last and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood and called out [in a loud voice], “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water.’”  (John 7:37) (AMP)

This “living water” promised by, both the psalmist and Jesus, is the Holy Spirit, God puts within our hearts, when we accept him.   God promises, “…because you [really] are [His] [children], God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! Father!”  (Galatians 4:6)(AMP)

The Holy Spirit fills me like rivers of waters, bringing forth all the nourishment and sustenance needed to live my daily life. However, we must “drink from these waters” through prayer.  Prayer, then becomes, the means in which God releases his power into my life.

The more I drink from these waters the stronger I am and the more my life will show forth the fruits of the Spirit, which include, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

My Prayer:  Lord, I want my life to be full of the fruits of your Spirit.  May I be so full of your love, joy and peace that it overflows to all around.  Thank you for the rivers of water you’ve place within my soul.  Help me to drink of them daily, so I’ll be, ever so close to you.  Amen.

A Walk Through the Book of Psalms

[I’m so excited to begin a “verse by verse” walk through the book of Psalms!  On this journey, my intentions will be to take one verse at time and journal my thoughts here in a series I’ve entitled “A Walk Through the Book of Psalms”  So please check back every Tuesday and Wednesday and walk with me on this journey.]

Psalms 1:2

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate, day and night.

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Any good Jew, or maybe I should say, any “living Jew” at the time of this writing, knew that the phrase, “the law of the Lord,” referred to God’s law, given to Moses in Exodus and Leviticus.  God gave this law to the children of Israel, as a means to “set them apart” and make them different  from the pagan nations around them.  And so a good Jew tried their best to adhere to every jot and tittle of a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts.”  Of course this was an impossible task for anyone to achieve and so the law became an effective mirror revealing their sin and inability to save themselves.

Fast forward some 1500 years, and we are witness to Jesus giving his life on the cross, for the purpose of delivering mankind out from under the bondage of the law.  Paul puts it like this, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree…” (Galatians 3:13)  And then later in the book of Hebrews he adds, “He [Jesus] takes away the first [law of Moses] that He may establish the second [Grace].  By [God’s] will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  (I love the word “all” because it include me and you too, whoever you are!)

Therefore, as a result of Jesus’s sacrifice upon the cross, when I read Psalms 1:2, where it says my “delight is in the law of the Lord,” I interpret it to mean that I should delight myself in the Grace, God, has so freely given to me.  When I think about it that way, I really become excited, because the focus is not on what “I” can or cannot do, but rather on what Jesus has already done!  Meditate on that for a while and it’ll make you want to get up and run around the house praising God for his love.  I don’t claim to be Pentecostal, as was my dad, but when I ponder the depths of God’s love, I sure wish to goodness I were!  And I mean that with utmost respect for all my Pentecostal brothers and sisters.  I believe they, just may, know how to express their joy, better than the rest of us.  Perhaps, the rest of us should take notes.

While Writing this article I felt compelled to look for  scripture in which I could meditate upon this week.  Here’s what I chose:

 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33) (AMP)  (These are the words of Jesus)

…But I am not ashamed, because I know the one I have put my trust in. And I am sure that he is able to protect what I have put into his care (my heart) until that Day.  (II Timothy 1:12)(ERV)

My Prayer:  Lord, I can’t thank you enough for the Grace you have given me in my life. Thank you that I can continue to count upon your Grace until the time it ushers me into your Kingdom.  May I, be as the Psalmist, and delight myself in your promises.  Thank you, Lord, that you loved me so much, you gave me Jesus, to deliver me from the bondage of my sin.  May I love you more as each day passes.  Amen.

A Walk Through the Book of Psalms:

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Pinned from springtime-blessings

I’m so excited to begin a “verse by verse” walk through the book of Psalms!  On this journey, my intentions will be to take one verse at time and comment on how it inspires or saddens me.  Hopefully, even the verses that sadden, will ultimately lead to the promise of God’s Grace; however, this is not promised.  (Gotta keep it real)

I’ll attempt to tackle at least two verses a week and then post my reflections on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and sometimes both days.  So please check back every Tuesday and Wednesday and walk with me on this journey.

 

 

Psalms 1:1

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, not sitteth in the seat of the scournful.”  (KJV)

How fitting for the “prayer-and-praise ” books of Israel (Psalms), to open with the promise of a blessing.  We all want to be blessed.  I remember as a little girl singing the song “Count Your Blessings,” with my Mom, in church, and even now, I catch myself humming or singing its lyrics.  It goes something like this:

Count Your Blessings

 When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Hearing my mom sing, always gave me a sense of peace…a feeling that no matter what, when it’s all said and done, everything would be okay.  My mom was powerful like that…and truth be told she still is…even from the realms of glory.

Life is not always pleasant and for sure we will reap what we sow.  Every decision we make results in consequences, good or bad.  You’ve heard the analogy of tossing a pebble in the pond…about the ripples that follow?  Well this is exactly how I interpret Pslams 1:1.  Our life is the pond, what we do is the rock and the ripples equal the results we are forced to endure.  This concept is inescapable because eventually we will all have to answer for our deeds.

The promise given here in verse one is contingent upon us refraining from:

  • Following bad advice
  • Living like unbelievers
  • Making fun of others who don’t believe as we do

Is it just me or does anyone else recognize the parallels of Psalms 1:1 and the commandments given by Jesus in the gospel of Mark…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second most important command is this: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’ These two commands are the most important.”  (Mark 12:30-31)  

If we busy ourselves loving God and others, we will have little time to sin and to sit in judgement of our brothers and sisters.

My Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the promises of your blessings.  I know, if I love you with all my heart, mind and soul, I will be less likely to make bad decisions, but if I do happen to sin and make mistakes you are faithful and just to forgive me and to somehow take “my bad” and turn it into something beautiful.  Help me to love you more each day and help me to treat others as I would like to be treated.  Amen.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabet

Photo Challenge:  Alphabet…Take us to school with your photos this week, and show us some ABCs.

 

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I was on my evening run, when I ran past this cemetery in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. Being a lover of all things paranormal, I couldn’t resist the temptation to explore the site.  The hour of day, dusk, enhanced an aura of creepiness as I walked among the tombstones.

 

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The “A-B-C’s” upon the above tombstones are so old they’ve rubbed smooth in many areas. Curious of the inhabitants, I enlarged the photograph until I could decipher a few words. I plugged these words into Google and was directed to http://www.rootsweb.com where I learned about the two girls who lay beneath the ground.

Abby and Eunice, the deceased, were the daughters of Moses and Hannah Wells.  Abby was born in 1816 and died 20 years later and Eunice was born 1811 and died 40 years later. Knowing this information, only served to create more questions within this writer’s mind. Who were these girls and what kind of lives did they lead?  Why did Abby die so young and just what happened to Eunice?  Did they have lovers…and if so was the relationship one peace and love or was it riddled with jealousy and abuse?  So….so many questions…

One day, maybe, I’ll try to weave a story around Abby and Eunice.

A walk among the tombstones, can be a writer’s friend.___ Lisa Hardy

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Weight (less)

Photo Challenge:  Weight (less)  Show us the effects of gravity in your photo this week

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Snapped this one while in route to Orlando Florida.  It was such a weightless feeling soaring above the clouds.  Loved it!

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This is my Carolina Dingo.  We rescued her from a kill shelter when she was just a little pup.  We didn’t know what kind of pooch she was until I did some research online.  I kept thinking she looked like a dingo so I googled dingo’s and “BAM” there was my Danica!   Breeds like her are called Carolina Dogs or American Dingo’s.

She absolutely loves the snow.  This photo was taken last winter when we lived in New Hampshire.  She looks so weightless as she runs above the snow.  Love that girl!

The Mark of the Beast

Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers…each week we are given a photo and allotted only 175 words to construct a story.  Below is my response to this week’s “Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers” 

 

The Mark Of The Beast

She watched him from her place of containment.  Sure enough, he had “the mark” and so she fled her confines to mingle amongst the merry crowd.

She felt his stare.  Knowing this to be her cue, she covered the ten steps, separating them and asked with a timid voice, “Care to dance, handsome?”

As usual, the stranger’s eyes filled with suspicion, but once he saw her shy smile, he tossed doubt away, and  accepted her soft hand.  In an instant their bodies melded and he was consumed with unquenchable lust.  He wanted her, but the intense craving terrified him. Sensing his resolve, she crushed him closer and huskily growled, “My poor…poor beast..not used to being controlled…”

Slowly she pulled away…but only enough for him to look into her black eyes.  In them, he saw the innocents he had raped and they were coming for him. Terror squeezed his heart until it burst.

She dropped the corpse and then faded into the picture hanging on the wall.  The caption underneath read, “Angel of Death”

(Word count 175)

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Photo by Etol Bagam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I Could Go Back

Daily Prompt:   If you could return to the past to relive a part of your life, either to experience the wonderful bits again, or to do something over, which part of you life would your return to? Why?

If I had the power to twitch my nose and wish myself anywhere in time, there’s no question as to where I would go.  Time travel would whisk me back to my children’s younger years and I would love them (my children) every single minute, that I may have wasted back then.  I would take each moment to make sure Beth and Joshua knew just how much their mama loved them.  I would pick them up with every skinned knee, hold them close and assure them all would be well.

I would sit on the floor and play “army men” or “dinosaurs” with Joshua.  We would set up our military, in strategic locations, all through out the living room, and wait anxiously for the “bad guys” to come.  Our plastic dinosaurs would romp and roar for hours at a time and afterward we’d sit and build Lego fantasy lands.

Beth and I would paint our faces with rouge, eye shadow and bright red lip stick and then set the table with cups and saucer, to have a tea party with her favorite doll, dressed in blue, and her cuddly stuffed raccoon.   Afterwards we’d bake peanut butter cookies and make cups of chocolate.

I would relive the hours, at Medoc Mountain State Park where Beth, Josh, Chewy, our dog, and I would wander the trails through out the woods.  Our hike would be long, but finally we would arrive at “the big rock by the creek,” and we’d scale to the top, all four of us, to eat.

I sure do miss those days.  I wish I had known, then, just how much I would miss them, today. If I had, I would have lived each moment to the fullest and then hid them away in my heart, so I could enjoy them over and over again, within my old age.

If you are young, with children of your own, be sure love those babies every moment  you can,  because one day, you, just as I, will turn around to find them gone…off to live lives of their own.

And so it is… as it should be.

Joshua is a West Point graduate, serving his country and Beth, with a Masters in Psychology, spends her day helping those in need.  I’m so very proud of them and the lives they lead, but oh, how I would love to go back, if only for  a day, to hold them in my arms and to kiss their freckled little noses.

I love you, Beth and Joshua.

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By Land Or By Sea

Daily Prompt:  Tell us about the one luxury item you wish you could afford.

As an introverted writer, my mind and heart yearn 6a00d83451587d69e201b7c77ca9d6970bfor a quiet place of solitude to write my upcoming best selling novels.  

This special place would be filled with chirping birds, nesting or busying themselves searching for their next meal.  Big white puffy, clouds would be swallowed by a blue sky, and at night, its endless borders would be blanketed by a bright Milky Way.  Of course, this place of magic would also house my two dogs, Danica and Dolly, and my two cats, Morris and Luna. 0086f3b64a2898fb68f60b33af723bfbThe dogs would be sleeping by my side and the cats would be crawling over me and my computer vying for attention.  Oops…oh yeah…and my wife, Corinne, would be there too.  (Psssssttt…Please don’t let her know I forgot to mention her.)

Outside would be my very own secluded nook that would come with a small table, and upon that table would be a hot cup of coffee, cheddar scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, buttermilk biscuits, and Aunt Bessie’s homemade apple-butter.

However, the question that nags me is:  Will I want to enjoy my luxury by land or by sea?

Travel Images from Australia

If by sea, I and my wonderful family would charter our private yacht upon the bluest of blue waters.  Our little boat would carry us to harbors all over American where we could dock and  walk the streets of forgotten fishing villages.

 

Now, if by land, my log cabin would be nestled snug within the Blue Ridge Mountains.  There would be a small lake close by and on its shores staked a little brevenchatie_doma_22dingy, just waiting to take us out for a misty morn, fishing excursion.     Inside, the cabin would be warmed by an over-sized fireplace with a large oak mantle and hearth of  stone.   Directv would be a must, after all, Corinne has to watch her beloved Patriots win the Superbowl.

Geeeeez…BOTH scenarios have me drooling with open mouth.  How to choose?

Well, as long as my family is by my side either  would be a win-win!

 

Epilogue

Since writing the dreams above, reality called and I had to go outside to do some poop-scooping.  It was cold, but I was thankful for the frost as it froze the piles of poop, making them easier to shovel.  On about my fourth shovel full, I stopped short with this thought:

 Cleaning poop from the deck of a yacht sounds dreadfully unappealing.

I guess you could just toss it overboard but what about the leftover mess smeared on the floor?  Is it possible to boat-train older dogs?

I did a little research, thanks to Google, and discovered that yes, it is, indeed, possible.  All you need is a little patience and a section of AstroTurf or a box of sod.  Also, for the cats, it’s probably best to anchor their litter box to the floor of the boat.

So, still the question remains….By land or by sea?