Sunday, August 30, 2009

Family Recipe: Pear Relish

Pear relish was one of my grandmother's favorite things. A number of years ago, she and I spent 2 days peeling, chopping, cooking, and canning it. I personally like it in tuna salad. Since she passed away in April of 2007 that day we spent together has become one of my treasured memories. As my daughter and I put up our few jars this weekend, I couldn't help but again think of her.

These are for you, Granny...


15 medium pears (at least)
3 large green bell peppers
2 medium onions
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 qt. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbl. salt
1/2 tbl. tumeric
1/2 tbl. allspice

Peel pears and finely mince.
Mince peppers and onions.
Mix with remaining ingredients in large boiler.
Cook on low for 1 hour.
Pour into hot, sterile jars to seal.

Note: This is a half recipe which makes about 9 pint jars. Boil your jars and lids. Remove them from the hot water one at a time. Fill with hot relish, leaving about 1" space at the top. Wipe the outside lip of the jar to remove any spilled relish (this will prevent your jars from sealing) and screw on hot lids tightly. Jars should "pop" and seal within 30 minutes to an hour.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The God of "All"

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 2 Corinthians 9:8
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ... 2 Corinthians 2:14

For with God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1:37

With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
God speaks in absolutes. He is the God of "all" and "every" and "always". He never does things half way. But He gives His full commitment with great quantities of provision for every event so that after all is said and done, we win!

Look at the Israelites. When they finally left Egypt, the Egyptian people gave them so much of their own wealth that they are referred to as having been "spoiled." "Spoiled" is an Old English word meaning "robbed" or "plundered". The Israelites left with not just their own stuff, but that of the Egyptians as well! As if that wasn't enough, He doesn't just watch them set off and wish them luck and a good journey. But He leads them with an enormous cloud and lights their way at night with a pillar of fire.

Then they come to the Red Sea, a vast body of water some 220 miles wide, and cross with all their families, cattle, and goods, without getting their feet wet. They do all of this before the Egyptian army can reach them, an army which is entirely destroyed in these same waters! Can you imagine standing there and witnessing this event? The Bible even states that for forty years their shoes never wore out and their feet never hurt. That in itself is amazing to me. (Exodus 12:36; 13:21-22; 14:22,23, 27; Nehemiah 9:21)

Look again at 2 Corinthians 9:8. Notice the first four words - "And God is able." This again is an absolute. Either God is able in our lives or He isn't.

I know what its like to be at the bottom, and the revelation that helped me the most was realizing how much God really was able and more than that, He was willing, to do for me. Didn't Jesus say, "Lo, I am with you..." How much? "Always!" (Matthew 28:20)
Always - every time; on every occasion; without exception; continuously (Dictionary.com)
Jesus is here every time, on every occasion, without exception. He is here continuously. I like that.

Here is yet another verse.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Neither, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor!

If God is the god of "all" and "every" and "always," if He is truly able, then Jesus' instructions in Matthew 22:37 are as easy as breathing.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is why we worship. We worship because He is big enough. He is our "all" supplier. He is "everything" we need. He is more than enough. We become like the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:18-19.
But I have all, and abound: I am full... (KJV)
At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me...And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (NLT)
It is absolute. He will do it!

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Writing

Hindsight is a great thing. With it we can look back and see all the steps that have taken us to where we are today. Hindsight in my life enables me to follow a pathway that brings me to this point, to why I write.

It's not that I have so very much to say. Actually, I am more like Mary, pondering all these things in my heart. (Luke 2:19) I'd much rather never say anything, never volunteer for anything, never participate in anything. As long as I have my husband and my daughter around me, I'm a happy person.

But God...

God evidently has other plans for my life. Plans besides my being one big stationary wallflower.

The Garden Wall
The Garden Wall

Half of the victory in my life comes with knowing how I am. More people struggle through life when a revelation of their own personality and behavior would fix half their problems. I know my mindset is always to retreat, so I have to push myself constantly to do things. I know the first step will be uncomfortable and painful, but I have to take it anyway or stay where I am and never move forward.

This is where I have adopted a wise saying, "If you need help, you need help." I have learned the value of help. I am nothing without the support of others, my husband greatest of all. Then all the multitude of friends and prayer partners that the Lord has given me. And readers, like you, who take the time to ponder my words.

I like writing. I have always liked it, but recently I came to realize just how much. Writing gives me time to think about what I want to say. It helps my thoughts make more sense to me. It helps me to not forget. Because, though I am good at remembering some things, like the spelling of words for instance, I am really good at forgetting others.

Writing fulfills for me what photography began. I am a photographer. Photography is the "soul" of me. And now I am a writer.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Trust In The Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Years ago, not too long after I was married, something happened to me that changed my thinking. I had gone to the grocery store and was standing at the end of what seemed to be a very long aisle staring at a $20 bill in my hand when I was suddenly overwhelmed with despair. How was I to buy a week's worth of groceries with such a small amount? And what would I do for money next week? Overcome, I burst into tears.

But then I heard the Lord's "still small voice". (1 Kings 19:12) "Never go back. Only go forward." Suddenly I saw it. I had an epiphany of sorts at that moment - I only needed to deal with what I lacked for today! If the Lord was really my provider, then tomorrow He'd provide me with what I needed to have tomorrow. From that moment on, I expected to "go forward", to move away from having only $20, to having all I needed. (2 Peter 1:3)

I can remember asking myself, "Do I need bread today? No, I have a few slices of bread. Do I need milk? No, there's still enough milk for a couple days. But I am totally out of soap, so that is what I'll buy." I began to trust in the Lord to equip me for the next day when that day arrived. I'd say, "I have enough until tomorrow, so I'll not worry about that today."

Look at the life of Abraham. Here he is, age 75, living in his ancestral town, when God speaks and tells him to move. And not just across the street, but "to a land that I will shew thee." (Genesis 12:1) Abraham left not even knowing where he was going or how far it would be! Can you imagine the explanations his family wanted? "We're going where? What do you mean you don't know??" But he had a promise, and he knew that God would not ask him to do something that He, God, would not also provide him with the means to get there.

Look again at Isaac. Here's Abraham's cherished son, the fulfillment of the promise God had given him, (Genesis 12:2) when God tells Abraham to offer up Isaac in sacrifice. (Genesis 22:1-2) Abraham doesn't even try to delay it. He gets up early the next morning, offers no explanation to Isaac, and sets out to obey. (verse 3) Isaac even asked him, "Dad, where's the sacrifice?" (verse 7) And what was Abraham's response? "God will provide..." (verse 8)

But here's what we do. We try to manipulate people and events in order to control the outcome. God had given Abraham the promise to make him a great nation when he left Ur. Ten years later when nothing had actually happened yet, he and Sarah decide to help things along and involve her servant, Hagar. (Genesis 16:2) What they ended up with though was not Isaac, it was not the plan God had for them, but it was Ishmael.

The Bible says Abraham loved Ishmael. In fact, he pleaded with God for Ishmael during the very moments they were speaking about the blessing of Isaac. (Genesis 17:8) Can you imagine? Here was God talking with him about something he's always wanted, giving him this huge blessing, and Abraham wants to talk about Ishmael.

No! God is fully capable of providing for our future, if we'll believe Him, if we'll trust in Him. And better still, He promises us a future of peace and hope, not evil, not lack, not despair.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
We must trust in the Lord with every step. We must listen for His daily instruction, and more than that, not trust in our understanding, not lean on what we think we know will work. Sometimes I don't know where the next step will land, but I know God cares about me, (Matthew 10:29-31) and I know He will guide me into any truth that I will need for each moment I will need it.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:3)
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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Photography Tips: Photographing Flowers

Of all the subjects that I enjoy photographing the most, I would put flowers near the top of my list. There is something so amazing about their form and beauty. However, as far as a choice of photo subject, I do realize they are very popular and have been done and over-done. So what will make my photo stand out from that of someone else?


One of the biggest keys to a good flower photo is always light. Study the light the flower is in. Is it direct sunlight or heavy shade? And what direction is the light coming from? Is it from the front, the side, or backlit? Wrong shadows can destroy a flower photograph.


If the flower is in direct sunlight, a good way to diffuse (scatter) the light is by using a sheet of white tissue paper. Have a friend hold the paper and block the direct light on the flower, or prop the paper up on a nearby object. I have even been known to hang it from a tree. You can also use your own body, or that of a friend to throw a shadow. But be careful to not overdo it and remove the light altogether! The resulting image could be too flat.

Asters

Aster

Aster

Light that comes from behind requires more creativity, but backlighting can be used to your advantage. It will darken and effectively remove distracting background objects from the photo. One good example of this is the walls of buildings. Additionally side lighting will display more of the texture and form of the flower. Often I find myself using both backlighting and side lighting together. In this lily photo, I used backlight to throw shadows on the faded blossom in the background and side light to spotlight the bell-like shape of the flower. What you cannot see is the siding of my house in the background!

Curves

Curves

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

The other key to a good flower photograph is composition. I cannot stress enough the need to study and learn photography composition in general, but for photographing flowers it will “make or break” the photo. Your choice of composition will always depend on the shape of the flower. Long tubular flowers work better in vertical format. Rounder shapes tend towards horizontal images. Choice of angle is very important. Usually, your lens should be at the level of the flower. Don’t photograph every flower while standing above it. Crouch down or raise your lens up. Even an upward angle can create a pleasing image. And be sure to walk around the flower, paying attention to your foreground and background, before you settle on a position.

Wild Plum

Wild Plum

Lastly, you must make the correct choice for depth of field. I tend to prefer a larger aperture, unless photographing a group or field of flowers. Give the flower some space around it and always try to include foliage. Foliage aids in identification, especially with wildflowers, and it gives the flower a place. In other words, it prevents it from looking like it is in “outer space” by itself. Another idea is to place identical flowers out-of-focus in the background or foreground. This gives the viewer a feel for the setting.

Good photographs always come down to good decisions. For photographing flowers, light, composition, and depth of field are the three biggest decisions you will make. By making correct choices, you will have an interesting image that makes people stare, instead of just another in a crowded field of flower photographs!

Shades of Sherbet, Hibiscus

Shades of Sherbert, Hibiscus

Foxglove

Foxglove

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bible Thoughts: The Final Solution

There's nothing like going into a situation totally prepared with the solution in hand. You know what you need to say, you know the outcome, and you know you'll win when it's all over. That is how our everyday walk with Christ is supposed to be. There is not a problem we will face that He has not provided the way out of. (1 Cor. 10:13) There is not a weakness we feel that Christ has not also felt. (Heb. 4:15)

Our heavenly Father's heart has always been for us to have the peace and power we need to overcome those things which trouble us. In the book of Deuteronomy, He made it very plain. We were given two choices: life and death. Then He provides the answer. Choose life!
...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life... (Deuteronomy 30:19)
When I was in school, if the teacher had passed out an assignment and then turned around and given the answers to all the questions, I would have used them! Why would a student presented with the answer key write down the wrong responses? That makes no sense to us, so why do we do the same thing where life is concerned? First Corinthians 4:4 tells us why. It is that we become blind to what is immediately before us.
"Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." (1 Cor. 4:4 NKJV)
In 2 Peter 2, we learn about the effect of spiritual blindness and the rewards of walking sin. The Contemporary English Version is particularly hard hitting. It compares people who choose disobedience by using phrases like "dried up water holes" and "clouds blown by a windstorm". (verse 17) It then refers to them as "vulgar" and "crude". (verse 18) But I especially want to call your attention to verses 19 and 20.
They promise freedom to everyone. But they are merely slaves of filthy living, because people are slaves of whatever controls them. (20) When they learned about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they escaped from the filthy things of this world. But they are again caught up and controlled by these filthy things, and now they are in worse shape than they were at first. (2 Peter 2:19-20 CEV)
The King James Version phrases it this way, "They themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning." Entangled and overcome is not how I want to be! Not when Christ said He has already overcome it!
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
"Be happy, I have already overcome these things you're facing! I've conquered them already!" We need to get that mentality into our heart - to go about, instead of being overcome, instead of being entangled with the affairs of life, (2 Tim. 2:4) being with the One who has already overcome, and allowing the Truth to set us free. (John 8:33)

There is not a problem we face that God has not promised to give us the answer for. (Psalms 91:15) We are only required to ask in order to receive. (Matt. 7:8) Why would we not take advantage of that? If we will ask, we will find. If we will call, He will answer. Then afterwards we'll be delivered and honored. I'll take that any day!
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Photographic Memory: Chickens

Penny and Peggy, Rhode Island Red Chickens
Penny and Peggy

Somehow these two old gals still manage to bring a smile to my face. They were a surprise gift from my husband, who showed up at the front door one afternoon with them in hand. I definitely hadn't had any thoughts about owning chickens, but they are now one of the favorite gifts he has given me.

When they were small, I kept them indoors. I'd cover them up at night with an old towel and listen as they made peeping noises and drifted off to sleep. Sometimes my daughter and I would go outdoors and hunt through the long grass in our yard for little green grasshoppers to feed them. As they got larger, they'd follow us around, expecting their special snack. They were very curious birds and a little bit nosy.

Penny and Peggy, Rhode Island Reds

I remember one day I opened the back door and peered out only to find Penny standing atop our barbeque grill. What a funny sight that was!

Penny, Rhode Island Red

I enjoyed those two silly birds so much. I tried owning other chickens without much success. Other chickens would fly over the fence and dig in my flowerbeds. Penny and Peggy never did. Other chickens couldn't be easily caught, whereas Penny and Peggy came when you called them.

There was William, a Cornish Game Rooster. I liked him a lot. He was so fat, weighing over 25 lbs., that he couldn't fly or even climb steps. At night, since he couldn't roost properly, he would set up underneath Penny and Peggy. He was mean enough, but his top speed was more of a waddle and so he was easy to outrun.

Williams, Cornish Game Rooster

In the end, Penny and Peggy lived to be five years old. That's a long time for a chicken. It was a sad day when Penny died. Peggy only lived a few more months. I think she was lost without her sister. I vowed never to replace them. There'd never be two chickens quite the same as those.

This is how my ceramic chicken collection began. I have them all on display in my kitchen, on top of the cabinets or on the walls, as a reminder of those two special birds.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography....and chickens.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bible Thoughts: It's Real!

2 Corinthians 6:17


Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord... 2 Corinthians 6:17


I hear it all the time, little comments denigrating the church, Christianity, and any belief in God, and I admit sometimes it bothers me. But Jesus predicted it would be so when He stated, "He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart..." (2) To put it more simply, those without a revelation of Christ will not see Christ or understand Christ.

There is nothing like experience as a teacher. What I have experienced of the power of God cannot be taken from me. I know it's real because I have lived it. I can't be convinced there's no power in the Word. I can't be persuaded God doesn't offer me healing, prosperity, and peace. I have become as it says in Romans 4:21, "fully persuaded". I know that I know that I know.

There is a hymn my parents would sing whose chorus goes:
But it’s real, it’s real!
O I know it’s real
Praise God, the doubts are settled,
For I know, I know it’s real! (1)
This experience of Christianity is real to me, but it's even better than that. God has promised me confidence and boldness.
And this is the confidence that we have in him... 1 John 5:14

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word Acts 4:29

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
This is boldness to share His promises, boldness to ask in prayer, and complete confidence in Christ.

Part of this boldness is knowing I will "be separate". I will not be like "the world", those outside of Christ. I will not make decisions like the world. I will not act like the world, dress like the world, talk like the world. I will be part of the "peculiar people" of 1 Peter. (3) Why? Because I have been called "out of darkness into his marvelous light." (3) I have been called to fear God, not man. (4) I am separate.

Most of all, I know He has equipped me for this walk. He has given me "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." (5) But don't stop there, read the rest of this verse! "Through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue." Through knowledge...to glory (power) and virtue. I especially like the New Living Translation of this verse.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3
"We have received all of this by coming to know him," or as it says in 1 John 1, "That...which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." (6) And again in verse 2, "For the life was manifested, and we have seen it..."

This experience is real to me. I "have seen it" and no one can take that away!


(1) "It's Real" by Homer L. Cox, 1907
(2) John 12:40
(3) 1 Peter 2:9
(4) Hebrews 13:6; Psalms 118:6
(5) 2 Peter 1:3
(6) 1 John 1:1

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Video: Trapeze

When I heard this song, I knew what video I wanted to create. The images used were all taken during the month of July 2009, when I was fortunate to have dozens of monarch butterflies in my flowerbeds. As happens to me a lot, I awakened early one morning and saw them in the video. I saw the symbolism between the images and the words to the song. But when I sat down to put it all together, I was unsure at first exactly what " look" I wanted. I in effect started in one direction but ended up in another. This video is the end result, and I hope you'll watch it.

You can also watch it both at You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J-DYDwPlbs) or at Photodex (http://www.photodex.com/sharing/viewshow?fl=3119294&alb=0). The Photodex version is clearer but will require installation of the Photodex Presenter for viewing. I believe it's worth that.


Hymn Stories: It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Horatio G. Spafford wrote this hymn in 1873 after a series of traumatic events in his life. Just two years prior, he had witnessed the Great Fire of Chicago as it consumed the city and most of his financial investments there. Then while heading for vacation in Europe, his wife and four daughters decided to sail ahead as Spafford stayed behind a few extra days.

However, while sailing to Europe, their ship collided with a British vessel and sunk. His wife was found floating on a spar of the ship unconscious. His daughters drowned. Spafford received a telegram from his wife with the simple statement, "Saved alone. What shall I do..."

It was while on the voyage to bring his wife home and while passing over the location of his daughters' deaths that Spafford penned the words to the hymn.

Later, he would write to his wife's half-sister the following words, ""On Thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs."


Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Spafford and his wife would have a son three years following this event. However, he would die at age four.


*http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/t/i/itiswell.htm
**http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/americancolony/amcolony-family.html


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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

True Repentance

When He arrives, He will uncover the sins of the world, expose unbelief as sin , and allow all to see their sins in the light of righteou...