Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blindness


And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Matthew 15:14)
I was reading the words of a well-known preacher the other day when he posed a question that really stuck in my heart. "Do you feel like you are walking around in circles?" he asked. Since then, the more I have thought on it the more I have to say "yes". In recent days I have felt a bit like I was spinning around and getting nowhere.

But, you know. the revelation of this is as great to me as finding the solution to the problem. Half the battles we face come because we can't see ourselves, our own behaviors, and the harm they are doing.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. (Mark 10:51)
I think back to the story of Elisha's servant. The king of Syria had been told that the reason he couldn't seem to win any battles was because of Elisha. So in response, he had sent soldiers to surround the city where Elisha was and capture him.

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

(16) And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. (2 Kings 6:15-16)
Can't you just picture the scene? There stands Elisha cool as a cucumber while his servant runs around in a panic shouting, "Oh my goodness! What are we gonna do???"

Elisha's servant was at that moment going in circles. His dilemma was not that he couldn't recognize the problem. Plainly, he could see that there were a whole lot of people out there to get them. He obviously felt underpowered and out of control. No, his issue was he couldn't see the solution.
And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. (verse 17)
I like the verse above from the book of Mark. I'm sure Jesus realized as He stood there that the man was blind. Yet still He asked him, "What do you want?" You know, it is the blind man's response that brought the solution. In this case that was his healing. The blind man said, "I want to see."

Here's what we should really notice from both of these stories. When Elisha asked the Lord to "open the eyes" of his servant it was granted. When the blind man asked Jesus for sight, it was granted! In both cases, they received their sight and then Lord delivered them.

I ask today for the Lord to open my eyes. Whatever it is, Lord, that I need to see to stop walking around in circles, I want to see it. For it is only when I can see, that I will be able to ask for forgiveness, change my direction, and begin to move forward.
---------------------------------------------
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, November 25, 2009

My Grandmother's Cornbread Dressing

This is an old family recipe which originated with my great-grandmother (mother's side). Simply put, we think its the best ever. The cornbread itself is a very moist buttermilk cornbread. The dressing is lightly flavored as my grandmother never liked a lot of spices. Just be sure to follow the directions when it says DO NOT STIR as that is key to the texture being firm and not mushy.



CORNBREAD:

1 cup white ground cornmeal (not self-rising)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup shortening, melted

Mix meal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Add buttermilk, egg, and melted shortening.
Pour into greased 9” pie plate.
Bake at 375° F for 12 minutes.
Makes 1 cornbread.

DRESSING:

2 recipes cornbread, crumbled
1 cup Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing crumbs
3/4 tube saltines
1 cup each steamed celery and onion, minced
poultry seasoning, to taste
3 eggs, beaten
4-5 cans chicken broth, heated
Chicken or Turkey drippings (optional)

Prepare 2 recipes of cornbread.
Crumble cornbread into a large bowl.
Steam celery and onion with 1/4 cup water in small saucepan. Do not brown!
Place saltines, stuffing crumbs, and the steamed celery and onion mixture on top of cornbread.
Add poultry seasoning (to taste).
Very lightly toss together.
Pour beaten eggs over mixture.
Slowly add heated broth.
Do not stir!
Gently prod the mixture with a fork to allow the liquid to seep through.
Pour into a rectangular baking dish.
Casserole contents should be slightly floating in liquid.
Bake at 350° F for 30-40 minutes. Do not allow to dry out!

NOTE:

Recipe is large and will perhaps take more than one baking dish. However, it can be halved. Dressing should be slightly floating in broth before being baked. Granny always boiled a chicken and used some of the natural broth instead of canned. She also used this broth for the gravy. At other times, she has used the drippings from the baked turkey as well. The amount of canned broth will need to be adjusted based on the amount of turkey drippings or boiled chicken broth you use. If not using drippings, you might need more than 4 cans of broth.

GRAVY:

1 can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup
1/2 - 1 can chicken broth
Giblets, diced small

Pour chicken soup into small saucepan.
Add chicken broth until desired gravy thickness.
Add giblets.
Heat.

---------------------------------------------
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, November 18, 2009

Gratitude

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)
This has been a good year for me and I have much to be thankful for. In 2008, God drew me up out of a very dark place and set me upon a rock above my enemy. (Psalm 27:5-7; 40:2) And my enemy was fear. I had allowed fear to consume my life and prevent me from moving forward. I am so grateful today to be free from fear. (You can read my complete testimony.)

But being free from fear does not mean the devil has stopped trying to assail me. Rather being free means no matter what he does, I am not moved by it. I am stronger in Christ than any darts he throws my way. (Ephesians 6:16) God is greater, and I am up higher, sitting protected under His wings, upon the rock where He has placed me to only "behold and see the reward of the wicked." (Psalms 91)

My gratitude every day is still so very great for this "unspeakable gift" God has given me.

Someone said to me, it is those who have been through an episode in their life that was very traumatic that most understand the meaning of worship. When I close my eyes and sing the words "unto You be all the glory" I mean them with all my heart. It is my extreme thankfulness that drives me into His presence. Thank you God! Thank you. Thank you.

I would not be where I am, however, without the support of my friends and family. (You know who you are.) Those who have corresponded with me via email. Those who have prayed for me when I was struggling. Those who have pushed me to move beyond my mental limitations. Those who have shared of their lives and listened to my own. For you I am so grateful. I have more friends this year than I ever have, and you have no idea what that means to me.

But most of all, I have to thank my spouse. There are not enough words to express what he has done for me. When I was at my lowest point, he held my hand. Thank you for all those hours talking, for "kicking me" (figuratively speaking) when I was making no sense. You have been my greatest support and I love you.

However, it was not enough for God to just lift me up out of the darkness, He then blessed my husband and I with a gift we had wanted with all our heart. I wake up each day reminded of how much God loves us. He is truly the God of "more than enough." And this entire year, even in what looks like the toughest times by the world's standards, we have always had enough. I am so grateful because I know it was nothing we did, nothing we deserved or earned, but God's free gift. God officially "one upped" us big time.

The Bible says in Ephesians 5:4, "Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks." Rather - instead of. Instead of telling coarse jokes, instead of serving your flesh, instead of saying the first thing that comes to mind, things that are "not convenient" or we'd say not proper or suitable, give thanks.

Don't waste your words this holiday season, take some time to stop and give thanks.

---------------------------------------------
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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Greater Things


Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)
In John, chapter 1, we see Jesus calling his disciples when, on one particular day, He speaks to a man named Phillip. (verse 43) And Phillip, all enthusiastic, then runs off and finds his friend, Nathanael.

I can picture it in my head. There is Nathanael minding his own business, on a seemingly average day, when Phillip runs up babbling about prophecies being fulfilled and how they've found the long awaited Messiah. "Come and see who we have found!" (verse 45)

Nathanael, a bit perplexed, gives him "one of those looks" and replies, "Seriously? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Not the only time that was said either.)

Nathanael's doubts linger, but he agrees to follow Phillip, who must have been a valuable friend, to find "this man". Well, when he and Phillip finally cross paths with Jesus, Jesus then proceeds tells Nathanael where he (Nathanael) was standing when Phillip had first found him.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! (48) Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. (49) Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. (John 1:47-49)
Jesus' words made an instant believer out of Nathanael. But the story doesn't end there! Jesus then says something to Nathanael, within the hearing of all surrounding them, that I can imagine really blew Nathanael's mind.
Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these... (John 1:50)
In our everyday lives, all to often, we let God's promises fade. In our hearts we still believe in them and agree with what is said, but because of circumstances and events and people, they become softer and less effective.

In 1 Timothy 1:6, the Apostle Paul tells Timothy to "stir up the gift of God." Apparently, Timothy had allowed fear and doubt to creep into his life and affect his ministry. Paul uses phrases like "hold fast" and "be not ashamed." (verses 8, 13)

However, I want you to notice that it was Timothy's job to stir himself up, not Paul's. Paul was sent by God into Timothy's life as a "reminder". I know, God constantly uses those around me in a similar manner, but the "stirring up" doesn't ever happen until I take the action myself. I have to read the Word. I have to pray. I have to worship. These things cannot be done by others for me.

This brings me back to my initial scripture. God has made us a promise that should really "stir us up!"

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)
Wow! Just when we've become complacent, just when we've allowed doubt to creep in, God wants us to know He will do "great and mighty things which [we know] not." Things we aren't thinking of, things we have forgotten about, or things we simply can't imagine!

But stop here for a second and ask yourself this question. What is the condition He requires of us so we can see these "great and mighty things"? What do we have to do to receive this promise? It's found in the beginning of the verse - "Call unto me. Stir yourself up! Just ask! Just ask!"

Doesn't the scripture say, "Ask, and it shall be given you"? (Matthew 7:7) Ask and it SHALL. It shall. It shall! "Call and I will." I will. I will! What "shall"? What "will"? "Great and mighty things" shall! "Great and mighty things" will! I tell you, this really stirs me up!

Jesus makes this promise even greater in John 14.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)
God will show us "great and mighty things", things we "know not", and then we'll go out and do "greater works". I like the thought that no matter where I'm at in life, God has something greater prepared for me. No matter how high up I am, or how low down I am, God has greater things, mightier things ready for my life. I don't have to know about them in advance or know what they are, but just believe they are coming!

I choose today to stir myself up. I choose to ask. "God, show me greater things! God, give me greater works!"

---------------------------------------------
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, November 1, 2009

My Look At Autumn

Sometimes words fail me, and so I send my message in pictures. I hope you enjoy these.


In My Golden Years, Crepe Myrtle
In My Golden Years, Crepe Myrtle

Fall Maple
Fall Maple

An Autumn Mountainside, Murphy, North Carolina
An Autumn Mountainside, Murphy, North Carolina

Leaf Litter
Leaf Litter

Sunlit, Red Maple
Sunlit, Red Maple

Amicalola Falls, Georgia
Amicalola Falls, Georgia

Bald Cypress, Lake Hancock
Bald Cypress, Lake Hancock

---------------------------------------------
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.




Story Saturdays

FREE to Email Subscribers This month's free book is "A Cowboy For A Lifetime". The deadline to sign up as an email su...