Thursday, April 29, 2010

Third Steve's Digicams Article

My third article entitled "The Rules of Photography" is now online at Steve's Digicams. I cannot reproduce the article here, but encourage you to read it at the link below.

The Rules of Photography

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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, April 28, 2010

Adjust Your Attitude

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7)
When I hit rock bottom in my struggle against panic attacks, I spent a lot of futile moments asking God why.

"Why did this happen to me?"
"Why am I so unhappy?"
"How can I ever get over this??"

It's not that God didn't want to answer my questions, because at a later date He did, but at that moment in time I wasn't at a point to receive them. All I had figured out was that I was incredibly depressed. I was confused, sad, and in a word, miserable.

Think for a moment of a similar situation in your life. Perhaps it is not an illness that you struggle against; maybe it is a situation at work. The boss has asked you to do something or to work with someone that makes you extremely uncomfortable. Maybe it's a family issue bringing in chaos. Sometimes relatives can be the hardest people to be around, the obligation to them being so much stronger. At the heart of it all, you are in the same spot I was, you don't have answers to all the "whys" you just know you feel angry and frustrated.

I have good news for you! God lifted me out of that dark place, and He will do the same for you. After all, God is in the "saving" business! Through many hours spent in prayer, study, and worship, God answered my questions, and today I am totally free! Yet, I have to say, the words God spoke to me then I take very seriously. I believe His answers to my questions were primarily given to prevent myself from ever being at that point again. There in an oft-quoted saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The answers I received were meant as a prevention.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Proverbs 23:7 tells us what we have in our heart is what we will become. Part of the answer to my conundrum came when I realized what I had been thinking about. I had spent years mulling over the hatred I felt for other people's actions. I did not forgive, and I certainly did not forget. I allowed a "root of bitterness" to grow in my life.* I also wasted a lot of time being afraid, planning for things to go wrong, for failures to happen to me. Instead of meditating on the "things" of Philippians 4:8, my feelings consumed my thoughts. As a result, without my realizing it, I gradually became all the things I didn't want to be.

Notice that my desire to not become those things, to not be afraid, or angry, or miserable, was not enough on its own. I never set out to become fearful, depressed, or bitter. I desired freedom. I wanted to be "filled with joy and peace, abounding in hope."** Being at the bottom, and now being no longer at the bottom, changed me. My greatest desire today is to never "go back there" again. My daily goal is to do whatever the Lord tells me to do in order to prevent my ever having to return.

I reached a point in my struggle where I knew it was entirely up to me. I could stay where I was, meditating on all those wrong thoughts, or I could change my thought processes.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
Ask yourself right now if you are as willing to change as I was. Are you as dedicated to the solution? Now ask yourself these questions. Do you go into a situation always prepared for something to go wrong? Have you in advance decided your circumstance will fail? Do you make a habit out of looking for mistakes in everyone and everything? Do you show up prepared to be unhappy and upset?

The Lord showed me that only person I can change when the things in my life are messed up, is myself. I can't take away the time someone hurt my feelings, but I can refuse to think on it constantly. I can't prevent others from stepping on my toes in the future, but I can determine to forgive and forget. The "ounce of prevention" comes when I walk in the love God He has told me to walk in. In advance of any situation, no matter what person I have to deal with, no matter how angry I am, or how badly it hurts, my joy in Christ remains when I adjust my attitude.

Today's society is always prepared to defend itself. We think we have all these "rights". The truth is we don't. We are told to be servants to all, as Jesus was.*** We are told to "love one another." ****

I like the thoughts we find in James 3. This entire chapter talks about controlling our speech, and it compares the two sides of the tongue, both its ability to bless people and to curse them. But look at verses 17-18.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17-18)
Our actions are to be planted first, before anything else, and for no other reason, than a peace.This is where you will ultimately find the "joy of salvation." ***** Joy is found in peace. When I, through God's Word and presence turn my life over to Him and adjust my attitude, when I come "willing to yield" to whatever the task is or whomever the person might be, then I will look up one day and realize how marvelously happy I am.

Much of my time was wasted being angry, and I still make mistakes today where my attitude is concerned. The difference is now I repent and ask for forgiveness. Instead of praying, "God change them," I pray, "God change ME." If I can change, then my joy will return. That is something God and I together can fix, and I like it much better!


*Hebrews 12:15 ** Romans 15:13 *** Matthew 20:27 **** John 13:35 ***** Psalm 51:12; Habbakuk 3:18

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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, April 25, 2010

The Orchids Are Coming!

* This was original posted at Pix-N-Pens, Thursday, April 22, 2010.

I had a revelation the other day about just how great my husband is. When we first decided to build our house, we came out one afternoon to walk the property and daydream. You know how that is. Our heads brimming with hope, we star-gazed a bit at the ideas circulating in our thoughts. This was when I first noticed these strange tiny flower stalks shooting up from between the blades of grass.

The ordinary observer might not have noticed them at all, but my husband and I are not ordinary observers. Our idea of a great nature walk involves identifying as much flora and fauna we can. We are forever telling each other of some bird sighting, some rare plant we passed, something that is finally in bloom.

So here were these unusual flowers, their slender, green stalks circumnavigated by seemingly negligible white blossoms. That is, they were negligible until I looked closer and realized that each flower held the perfect shape and form of an orchid.

Ladies' Tresses Orchid
Ladies' Tresses Orchids, Spiranthes vernalis

Imagine that! These tiny insignificant flowers buried in the surrounding overgrown grass were orchids!

It's amazing to me how many beautiful things people walk by every day, blind. Aren't most wildflowers just weeds? I already shared with you the saga of the toadflax, which bloomed and faded just weeks ago. Those are very common wildflowers here and people mow them over all the time, yet for me they were beautiful.

Toadflax
Toad Flax

For most of the year these orchids are invisible. In fact, they are also called "Leafless Orchids". Buried in the grass, you can search and search and never locate one. This is where we have a problem. Because we never know where they will pop up from or how many will blossom, mowing in the spring is out of the question. You cannot possibly mow orchids!

Last year it worked out great. The orchids bloomed for a few days and then faded back into the soil before the grass began its summer growth. But things this year from the very start have been different. When my husband decided to mow the toadflax, his thoughts went immedately to protecting the orchid buds. You see, we had spotted a few already. Setting his blades high, he commenced to the task thinking the buds were not yet tall enough to be damaged.

The good news is it worked! The orchids were coming!

But as time went by we were hit with another problem. The warm temperatures had the grass, and thereby the weeds, really growing. Now what do we do? This is where I say my husband is a great man. He refused to mow the orchids. For two or three days he crisscrossed the field marking every flower stalk with a small wooden stake. He trimmed around the base of each one by hand, to avoid any possible damage, and then spent extra time carefully navigating all those poles.

I have told him time and time again how appreciative I am. What other people might have overlooked, are valuable to me, and to him. And in the coming weeks when the flowers finally open for their brief span of life, he and I together will be the ones who reap the reward of such amazing diminutive beauty.

I am grateful for that, and I can't wait.

Ladies' Tresses Orchid

*These photos were taken last year.

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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, April 21, 2010

Speak The Words


For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. (Mark 11:24)
This is such a simple concept. Prayer involves speaking.

This thought came to me after reading an online article in which a debate was being raged over prayer, specifically Christian prayer, prior to a local political meeting. The author of the article was interviewing another person for their opinion on the matter and something this person said round about page three stopped me in my tracks. In essence they said, "I don't understand what is wrong with just having a moment of silence."

What is wrong with having a moment of silence?

Immediately, upon reading that statement I knew the answer. A moment of silence will accomplish nothing at all because prayer involves speaking; it is words!

What was the key action to answered prayer in Mark 11:23? The very next verses, both 23 and 24, tell us this verse is speaking about prayer, so again, what are we as believers being told to do? Notice the verbs!

"Whosoever shall say..."
SAY! Nothing productive is done just by thinking prayer in our minds. No, we need to physically speak the words.

So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. (1 Corinthians 14:9)
In verse 15 of this passage in 1 Corinthians, Paul goes on to say he will pray both "with the spirit" and "with the understanding". In other words, he prays both in his native language and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Yet look back at the previous instruction in verse nine. There very plainly he states, "Except ye utter..." Except you speak the words, how will it be heard?

We see this instruction again in Matthew.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Jesus told us to ask for those things we need, and He promised with our asking, God, who loves us so very much, would answer. No "moment of silence" can ever do what a vocal prayer can do for prayer is communication with our heavenly Father. He knows more than we do, and He holds the solution!

When faced with a difficult task, don't we always want to ask someone who has the solution? What good would it do to walk up to that person, pause, and say nothing? We could assume they could read our minds, but in actuality they would never know we had a question or that we needed anything. We'd remain ignorant.

Prayer is not effective until the words are actually spoken.
This is an instruction given to us in the Word of God, and it is an instruction given with a promise.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 John 5:14)
If we ask, we know that we have! How marvelous is that?

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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, April 14, 2010

Being The Church


But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building (Hebrews 9:11)
There is a rhyme which children commonly sing, making motions with their hands.

Here's the church, and here's the steeple
Open the door and see all the people.

This rhyme is simple, yet it effectively illustrates what the Bible clearly tells us here in Hebrews chapter nine, that the church of God is not a building, but the people in the building. Individually, we each are the church.

We can see this more completely by examining the previous verses here in Hebrews chapter nine. These verses describe some of the rites and ceremonies and articles used in the Old Testament tabernacle. A contrast is then made between these items and the change Christ made through His death and resurrection.
"The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest... (verse 8)

Which was a figure for the time then present... (verse 9)
Notice the words "yet" and "then". We must grasp these statements in order for the words in verse 11 to fully impact our heart. Verse 10 continues:
Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ... (Hebrews 9:10-11)
The Old Testament tabernacle was an incomplete figure of God's consummate desire. His presence there was available only to the high priest who had to offer sacrifice for the forgiveness of the people. "But Christ" through His death and resurrection changed all of that. We are now "buildings not made with hands" and God's presence lives in us.
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; (Hebrews 10:16)
Instead of forms and rituals, God has now placed His Word in our hearts. He has written it into our minds. Christ has come and created in us something "greater". GREATER! Verse 11 says "greater and more perfect". That would be you and I! What God has placed within us is greater and more perfect. Didn't Jesus Himself tell us to do "greater works" than He had done? (John 14:12)

Have you really thought about that? We have a responsibility as the church to live out from "the world". We cannot possibly be "greater" or "more perfect" and yet blend in with what secular society is doing. This instruction was specifically given to us in 1 Peter.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9)
Now I do want to point out that the word "greater" does not imply Christians are above anyone else. The Bible speaks against this in Colossians 3:11.
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
Jesus died for everyone. (John 3:16) He didn't pick and choose. Instead, it is a description of our lifestyle and behavior as Christians, as the church. Both the word "greater" and "perfect" in the Greek speak as to age and maturity.

There is a commercial currently playing in which a scientist is talking to a wedge of cheddar cheese to see how "mature" it is. The wedge of cheese at first makes several crass comments and the scientist then checks the cheese off on his list as being "not ready" yet. A little while later he is again speaking to the wedge of cheese and the cheese is talking entirely differently. Now, this example seems silly, but again sometimes the smallest ideas are the best illustrations.

We, the church, are to set ourselves apart; we are to grow up in God. People who meet me should know that I am a Christian, that I live my life by Christ's example and the principles given to me in the Word of God. Visitors to our church buildings, no matter what denomination they may be, should know we are different, we live differently, we react differently, from what is around us.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)
Our lives as church members should draw others to Christ. People should come to the service on Sunday knowing that inside the walls of the building they will find the presence of God, the love of God, and the answers they need. They come because we, individually, are different. Conversely, our churches, though they need to be relevant, should not become so like the world. There needs to be a definite distinction.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9)
My life's example isn't about the talents I have, the things I own, or the places I've been. Corporately, our church services are not about the songs we sing or the use of visual media during the sermon. People shouldn't come because they heard we sing popular tunes or use lots of videos, or in reverse because we don't. They should come because they can see we, the people of God, are different, our lives reflections of the love of God.

This is my ultimate goal. I want my life to display only the praises of what God has done for me.

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


2 Corinthians 6:17

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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, April 11, 2010

Beauty

Sunrise Shuttle Launch
Sunrise Shuttle Launch

Azaleas at Springtime, Bok Tower Gardens
Azaleas at Springtime, Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Florida

Walkway, Lake Parker Park
Walkway, Lake Parker Park, Lakeland, Florida

*If you'd like to know when I've added more photographs, subscribe to this blog via email (below) or join me at Facebook.

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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, April 7, 2010

Staying Filled


Full, adjective - 1. containing all that can be held; filled to utmost capacity 2. complete; entire 3. of the maximum size, amount, extent, volume 4. wide, ample 5. abundant; well-supplied 6. engrossed; occupied

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent...Being filled with the fruits of righteousness... (Philippians 1:9-11)

I captured in my heart this week what it truly means to "be full of Christ". I don't know why I hadn't seen it before. Many sermons have been spoken about the need to "have more of God", and we as church members sit there and nod in agreement. We believe it in our heads and yet do not understand it in our hearts.

Think of yourself as a glass. Here's another analogy that has been done before, but I believe it is the simplest way to grasp my point. A glass can be empty, partially filled, or completely filled. If I am thirsty and my glass contains only one ounce of water, then I will not get satiated very well. I will remain thirsty. As a result, my behavior, my need for refreshment, will continue and probably worsen. Only when I have obtained the proper amount of water and consumed it will I be satisfied.

Ask yourself this. How does the glass become filled?

When Philippians 1:11 states "being filled", it is requiring action on our part. "Being" is a verb, and for something to "be filled", necessitates a continuing action. Think about that. Continuing action itself needs time for it to work. If we "continue" in something then it is a task we are dedicated to or something we linger over. Remember Jesus' words in the book of John?
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; (John 8:31)
The very next verse contains the promise, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." When did the truth come? When were we "made free"? After we continued.

Now, in Matthew 6, Jesus gives us a caution.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)
We don't speak today using the phrase "eye be single". This simply means sound eyesight. One translation puts it this way, "If then your eyesight is good..." * What you spend time looking at, and this does not specifically mean just television or music, is what you will be full of.

Back to the example of the glass. A glass can be filled with any number of things: liquids or solids. What we put in the glass, and the amount we put in the glass, is what it contains. I cannot lift a glass of pebbles and drink it. Neither will a glass of soil quench my thirst, but it will fill the glass. Then, because the glass is full of something else, there will be no room for water.

There is no "straddling the fence" with God. He Himself said He disliked people who were "lukewarm". He dislikes it enough to "vomit", which is strong language. ** We sing a song in church about "our God" the "consuming fire". But if you look up all the verses in the Bible where this thought is, they are not positive ones. Instead, they speak of consuming enemies or consuming sin. I don't want to be "consumed" by God. However, I do want to be filled!

I want my glass to be full and contain nothing but Christ. Then I will, just as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "never thirst again." # Never thirst! Here's where I got my revelation. What is thirst? Typically, we think of thirst as the desire for more of God. But thirst doesn't always reveal itself in that light. Thirst reveals itself when we begin to "feel bad". Our throat feels dry, or in extreme cases, our body begins to shut down. Speaking figuratively, it would be our bad behavior: irritability, unkindness. Thirst is not walking in the love of Christ.

This thought answers the question I know I personally have asked myself so many, many times. I'll bet you have done the same. You become overwhelmed by a situation and begin to grumble and complain. You might even pray one of those "God, please help me!" prayers. And yet afterward, you are still frustrated, still unable to overcome.

"God, what do I do now? How can I feel better about this? How do I go to work tomorrow and sit beside this person? How can I love him now?" when our heavenly Father has given us the solution all along. 'BE FILLED' with Him. If I am full of God, then I am only full of love, peace, joy...all the "fruits of righteousness" promised in Philippians 1, and listed in Galatians 5:22. If I am truly "full" (at maximum capacity) then there is no dirt, no pebbles in my glass. Conversely, if I still feel the tiniest bit irritated, then I am not full enough.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
How glorious it is to have the solution! In any circumstance, I can overcome through more meditation on the Word, more worship in His presence, more time spent in prayer. Yes, it will take time out of my day, but it will also change me. I will become different, will look at things differently. But that is okay with me, because it means my glass is always full, I am never thirsty, and I always have enough!
Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. (Haggai 1:5-8)

* WNT ** Rev. 3:16 # John 4:13

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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, April 4, 2010

An Ode To Spring

*This post first appear on my blog at Pix-N-Pens.


I had the most glorious spring day. You know the type of day where you have nothing to do but sample what the sun and the air and the colors of the earth have put on display. It was as if I awakened from a cold, brown dream to find my yard dressed for a holiday.
Unknown Grass Blossoms
Unknown Grass Blossoms

So I went for a stroll and sat amongst the wildflowers. Intent, I listened as a distant mockingbird sang and sang and sang, his sweet trill joining chorus with the peep-peep of smaller warblers, the knock of a woodpecker, and the far away cry of an eagle.

The sun put on its gentle side and held hands with the breeze to caress my face.

Toadflax
Toadflax

In those moments I became as the flowers were. Underneath an effervescent blue sky, the flowers and I sank into the soil, softly turning our faces in the direction of the wind. United, we paused and watched the world swirl around us.

Tiny insects crawled and climbed animated by the warmth and light. A few early flying creatures flitted by, spinning from flower to flower in celebration.

Spring

In peace I sat there. Things were so alive. Moving and growing and blossoming, somehow when I wasn't paying attention, life had aroused from its slumbers and begun a great work.

Flatwood Plum Blossoms
Flatwoods Plum Blossoms

* You can view the entire album of these images at this link.

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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.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Second Steve's Digicams Article

My second Steve's Digicams article is now online. It follows on the heels of the previous article entitled, "What Is Photography?" This one is titled "Becoming A Great Photographer".

Becoming A Great Photographer

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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.

Story Saturdays

This month's FREE BOOK has been selected. For email subscribers only, I will send a download link to a copy of STEELE (Billionaire Boys...