Photo Challenge: Dense

Photo Challenge:  Dense

Bird House on The Cape
Bird House at Cape Cod

So, I took a little creative license with this photo.  I captured it last week, while visiting my daughter in Massachusetts.  In the original, the house was almost hidden by a dense thicket of branches.  I felt, the main focus, was obviously the bird house, so I did a little cropping, and was able to pull the image in quite nicely.  Next, I softened the edges, by using a vignette filter, with Adobe Photoshop…thus my creative license.  I was pleasantly pleased, with the outcome, so much so, I intend to use this as the subject of a forth-coming, watercolor painting.

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Danica, my Dingo, resting in the fallen leaves.

I took this photograph, while living in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.  I was outside, one late, Autumn day, raking the oak and maple leaves that densely covered our yard, when I noticed, Danica, had found her comfort, nestled within the pile I had made.

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Apples, gleaned from a local farm in the Shenandoah Valley, on their way to help feed the hungry.

This photograph was also taken on an Autumn day, but this time, in the Shenandoah Valley.  Every year, our church, gleans the orchards of local, kind-hearted farmers.  The densely packed apples, were distributed to shelters, that help feed the poor and homeless within our community.  I absolutely love our church!  RISE is all inclusive and seeks, in every way possible, to mend God’s creation.  If you’re ever in the area (Harrisonburg Virginia), please visit us!  You will be warmly welcomed.  http://www.riseharrisonburg.com

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Peels from the apples, destined for a pie.

Continuing with an apple theme, this photograph was taken while I was in the midst of making a pie.  “My counter lay dense, in beautiful hues of red.”  (hmmm…that last line could be the beginnings of a beautiful poem…)

***

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense

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Accepting Bridges, Instead of Walls

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God has called us to build bridges and not walls.  The whole story of Christ’s life, testifies to this.  During his ministry, Jesus broke down many walls of separation.

For example:

  • Jesus was a Judean Refugee living in Egypt.  (What if Egypt had built a wall?)
  • Jesus had many women disciples. (Gender Wall)
  • Jesus praised the Samaritans, whom the Jews considered dogs. (Race Wall)
  • Jesus spent his time with sinners, instead of the religious. (Religion Wall)
  • Jesus admonishes the poor, instead of the rich. (Status Wall)
  • Jesus proclaimed Grace instead of Law. (Rule/Regulation Wall)

Jesus leveled the playing field, where all are equal, and He calls us to do the same.

For He is our peace.  He has made us both one body, and has broken down the hostile, dividing wall between us.  Ephesians 2:14

 

Daily Prompt: Acceptance

 

Photo Challenge: Atop

The Challenge:

Experimenting with our point of view in a photograph allows us to establish a setting, tell a specific story, or rethink our own perspective. This week, consider your point of view as you respond to this challenge’s theme, “Atop.” If you’re physically on top of a thing or a place — a mountain, a skyscraper — what type of scene do you want to share in your frame? Consider, too, other interpretations of “Atop” — what does it mean or look like to be on top of a soapbox? A bestseller list? The world?

Show us your best image — we look forward to seeing everyone’s takes! – Cheri Lucas Rowlands

My Takes:

Zip Lining!

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Zip Lining in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
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Victor, my friend, takes the leap from the top!
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The views from the top were outstanding!

 

New York City!

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View from the Empire State Building in New York City.
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View from the Empire State Building in New York City.
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View from the Empire State Building in New York City.

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed my photos, as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Life is Good!

Haiku: Controversy

Anger, hate and doubt,

Faith, love, hope; your choice to be.

Great Controversy!

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Haiku is so much fun!  It’s like a math problem combined with a crossword puzzle.  You only have 17 syllables to get your point across; and those syllables must be stacked in a  5-7-5  format.  Often the first and second lines are at odds with one another and the last line ties the concept together.

Today’s Daily Prompt: Controversy

“Cee’s Which Way Challenge”

“This challenge is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails, steps, signs, etc. we move from one place to another on.” (Cee)

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At the top of MT Washington, New Hampshire
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Old rails while hiking Depot Trail, New Hampshire
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Stairway in my house at Christmas
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Times Square, New York City
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My footprints on a snowy road. Taken while out on a run.
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Spring walk at Purcell Park, Harrisonburg Virginia
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Gloucester Massachusetts where I ran my one and only half marathon

 

Cee’s Photo Challenges

Cee’s Photography

 

My Soul To Take

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Painting by Florence Kroger

 

Oh, that God would mold this clay,

nothing but dust, dirt and decay!

And yet, in me, He saw some worth;

He sent his Son, from Heaven to Earth.

To lay down his life, upon the cross,

to thirst, and bleed, and suffer loss.

And so for me, His Glory awaits;

one day I’ll walk, through pearly gates.

So nothing to fear, because I am free;

His rod and His staff, they comfort me.

The shadow of death, there is no escape,

But God’s in the valley, my soul, to take.

***

As a tiny girl, often, my mom and I, prayed the prayer, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”  I was always comforted by this bedtime ritual.  As an adult, when I think on the memory, I find I am blessed just as much now, as I was then; perhaps even more.  Thus was the inspiration for this poem.

“Mama, thank you for the foundations of strength you’ve given me.  I am a better woman because of you.”

now i lay me down

(Daily prompt: Luck)

Luck has nothing to do with my spiritual life.  It is orchestrated by the hand of God.

 

God’s Abstract Love

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There are some things we will never understand, and God’s love is one of them.  Maybe there are times, we think, we comprehend its depth, only to have the knowledge drift away, like a cloud in the sky.

If it were possible to put God’s love to canvas, you can be sure, it would be abstract art.  I truly enjoy abstract paintings, because every time I view it, I learn something new; and for me, that is exciting!

Such is God’s love, dear friends.  It is multifaceted with many doors, but, behind each door stands Jesus.  He tells us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in.”

Jesus knocks at our door, but sometimes it is required of us to knock. In the book of  Matthew, Jesus speaks, “Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Sometimes we hear, see and feel his love, but often we do not.  When we walk the latter, we walk in God’s abstract love; but don’t despair; for it’s during these times, our faith is strengthened, and our eyes are opened to something new.

Jesus is whispering, “Seek, and you shall find.”

***

Daily Prompt: Abstract

 

Fairy Dust of Magic

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Photo by Renee Dawson

 

Fairy Dust of Magic

 

I sit here basking, under rays of sun,

with grass interwoven between bare toes.

The bumble bee, he buzzes, he’s on a mission,

to a fragrant purple…a lilac…he knows.

***

Humming birds flit, their wings all a flutter.

 The nectar they crave, from this purple place.

Orange  Monarchs, and  Swallow-tails of yellow,

 land on the flowers, to hide their face.

***

Nervous, I was, at the dawn of this day.

 But now, I smile at nature’s display.

 And all of those critters, they…like the fay,

  fairy dust of magic, upon me, convey.

***

This poem is a result of today’s Daily Prompt, Nervous.  It was inspired from memories of me  as child, sitting in the shade an old lilac bush, my mom had planted.  I loved watching the birds, bees, and butterflies that frequented its branches.

 

 

 

 

The Lord is my Shepherd

When, blessings like a river, swarm.

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“The Lord is my shepherd.”  And thus begins Psalm 23.

King David is the author of Psalm 23; however, as much as we Christians would like to believe, David was not the first to pen the idea of God as shepherd.

History tells us, this metaphor, of comparing god to shepherd, was common place within the Eastern world.  For example:

  • There was a song written about Marduk, patron deity of the city of Babylon, during the early 18th Century BC, describing his care for the weak like a “benevolent shepherd.”  
  • Another song written of Shamash, Mesopotamian sun-god, proclaims, “You shepherd all living creatures, together, you are the herdsman, above and below.”
  • Hammurabi (c.1750 BC) claimed kingship by providing “the people with pastures and watering places, having settled them in peaceful abodes.”
  • A phrase, which closely parallels Psalm 23, was found inscribed upon ancient Samaritan text and it reads,  “A man’s personal god is a shepherd who finds pasturage for him.  Let him lead him like sheep to the grass they can eat.”

Some Christians, learning of this, may feel it weakens David’s writing, but I feel quite the opposite.  I’m sure David, a learned man, was aware of such comparisons; therefore, when he chose to liken his God to that of a shepherd, he, in essence, was elevating his God, Yahweh, above all other gods.

David spent many of his younger years, tending his father’s sheep.  The book of II Samuel, speaks of two incidents where David had to kill a lion and a bear in order to protect the fold.  David understood the lambs were vulnerable, and without his protection, they would most likely die.  Knowing this fact, when he wrote Psalm 23, he visions himself to a lamb, that is dependent upon the shepherd, and for David, this shepherd could only be Yahweh.  David humbled himself, and placed his entire well-being, within the hands of God.

I love how David makes Psalm 23 personal.  He could have written, “The Lord is a shepherd” and that would have been true, but instead he writes “The Lord is ‘my’ Shepherd.”  By that simple two letter word, David sheds light upon his close relationship to God.

I believe when we read Psalm 23, God desires of us, to make it personal.  He wants each of us to slip our identity within this passage, and when we do, this ancient scripture becomes alive.  We like, David, can proclaim a personal relationship with God, and when we are able to do that, God Himself walks with us.

Oh, what peace and joy this brings!

My Daily Prayer:

Lord, you are my Shepherd.  You care about everything in my life, even unto the minutest detail.  Help me today to ponder this thought.

When I’m tired, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will feel rest.  When I’m afraid, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your protection.  When I am lonely, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your presence.  When I am guilty, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your forgiveness.  When I’m down upon myself, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know I’m enough.  When I feel unloved, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your love.  And in that time, when I face death, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and I will know comfort and peace.

Lord, thank you for this day, you have made for me.  Help me to live it, with my hand in yours.  Help me, to be a blessing, to those you bring to my path.

In the name of Jesus, my savior, I make these requests.  Amen

***

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  — Jesus

When blessings, like a river, swarm

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(Information about comparisons of gods to shepherd was taken from the NIV Study Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

Never Hesitate To Prove Your Love

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Some two thousand years ago Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”  Not once, but three times Jesus asked this of Peter, and three times Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

One may question, why did Jesus ask this three times?

Why wasn’t one “yes” enough for Jesus?

Was Jesus so insecure that he needed to hear Peter, say it three times?

Of course not.  Jesus was trying to  teach Peter a valuable lesson about true love.

This account is found in John chapter 21.  When reading the story, we notice after each “yes” from Peter, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” and lastly “Feed my sheep.”  In doing this, I believe Jesus is trying to convey to Peter that, true love is not how you feel, or what you say, but rather, true love is what you do.  True love is action. 

I think it probable, Jesus asks us the same question, many times a day, and it’s not an answer he seeks, but rather a response.

We prove our love for Jesus, when we take care of his people.

My Daily Prayer:  Lord, as I go through this day, help me to hear your question, “Do you love me?”  May I hear it when I see the hungry, the poor, the lonely, and may I love you, by loving them.  Jesus, fill me, that I may be you, to all those around me. In your beautiful name I ask, Amen.

***

Never hesitate to prove your love.