Sunday, August 29, 2010

Seek Peace


...seek peace, and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14b)
One morning a few weeks ago, I lost my peace. Oh, it's not that I blew up, it was more that I fell apart. And for days, my errors in mental judgment continued to affect me. The hardest part was I knew where my solution was. I knew that I would only find peace "in Christ". (Romans 8:2)

Instead, I was exactly like the scripture in James 1 - "a wave of the sea" driven and tossed by each wind. (James 1:6) One minute I was up and things looked hopeful and possible, and the next back down again, plunged into despair. I think you recognize the feeling. I determined to push through, then back-peddled and gave up the ground I had just gained.

Stand therefore... (Ephesians 6:14a)
There isn't any other solution but to "keep on standing." The Scripture says, "SEEK peace. PURSUE it." Think about the magnitude of that. Those are actions made through dedication and purpose. That is "stick-to-it-iveness". That is a determination to succeed.

The good news is, God says when we seek Him, we WILL find Him. (Deut. 4:29; Matt. 7:7) After all, He is faithful who promised, if we'll just hold on and never give up. (Hebrews 10:23)

I finally found peace again. This morning, instead of our usual summer heat, it dawned gray and cloudy with a light breeze. I sat on our porch and watched the flowers as they bent in the wind. An early butterfly appeared. Then in the distance, I spotted a pair of sandhill cranes, slowly strolling across the pasture.

I sat there and I prayed and I made my daily confessions. And in that moment, I finally realized just how peaceful I was. Once again, God honored His promise. Once again, I am so very, very grateful.

He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me... (Psalm 55:18a)
Sandhill Cranes

Watch a video of the Sandhill Cranes
.

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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 22, 2010

There's Always Photographs

Water Drop

When nothing else works in my life, there's always photographs. They are constants. They remove my mind from whatever is bothering me and focus it instead on something else.

Through them, I go places I am not. I stroll a sandy beach. I walk through a forested park. With a photograph, I can climb towering mountain heights and swim amazing ocean depths. With photographs, it can be fall, or winter, summer, or spring on any day of the year.

Frosty, Crepe Myrtle Seed Pods

They don't require anything of me. I don't have to explain myself to them, and I don't have to apply. They don't need answers.

Rather, without qualification, they do the talking. They describe to me multitudes of color and sound. Suddenly, I am enveloped in the rush of a waterfall or surrounded by the orange glow of sunrise. Photographs bring chattering birds, lowing cattle, and whispering wind, that much closer to me. They radiate themselves through shades of blue, green, yellow, or red.

A Red Autumn

Photographs are my voice, and I, in return, am theirs. Old friends, hand-in-hand, we spell out the magnificence - of distances, of vistas, of abundance and beauty.

Conduits, they tell of places and times I have or haven't been. They are forever reminders of the cycle of life. Through them I am small again, my problems miles away.

Yes, for me there's always photographs, no matter my environment, my station, or my place.

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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, August 20, 2010

Articles 6 and 7 at Steve's Digicams

My 6th article, "Point of Focus and Depth of Field" and my 7th article "Horizontal or Vertical Format" are now up at Steve's Digicams. I cannot reproduce the article here, but you can read them at the links below.

"Point of Focus and Depth of Field"

"Horizontal or Vertical Format"

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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 18, 2010

A Visit To Kissimmee State Park

On a visit to Kissimmee State Park in Lake Wales, Florida, August 14, 2010, I took the following pictures.

We started our walk along a canal leading to Lake Kissimmee; the lake gives the park its name. My daughter and I spotted 3 whitetail does across the canal. There are two bridges crossing the canal, a footbridge and a wider "driving" bridge. On the footbridge, was a Little Blue Heron. At the base of the bridge was a Great Blue Heron. However, our presence drove him to walk further off.

Little Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

This next photograph shows the canal itself as it faces away from the lake. The lake is, in fact, a great distance off and not accessible at this point.

Canal to Lake Kissimmee

We actually crossed over the footbridge and then back over the "driving" bridge returning to the same side of the canal. We walked a short segment of unpaved roadway. To its right are large live oak trees and picnic tables. To its left are acres of marsh leading to open prairie and then a slash pine forest. My husband spotted a raccoon (rather wet) coming out from the marsh.

Prairie, Kissimmee State Park

Slash Pine Trees

Slash Pines, Kissimmee State Park

We had started down a trail into the pine forest when my husband heard a wild turkey gobble. Following the sound took us out of the pines and across the entrance road into a section of oak woods. We spotted the turkey, one lone bird, but I did not get a photograph.

Walking further into the oak woods, we came upon a section of slash pine trees. Underneath the pines were the ever prevalent saw palmettos.

Saw Palmetto

Slash Pines and Saw Palmettoes, Kissimmee State Park

There were Goldenrod wildflower blossoms. These are extremely early this year. Ordinarily, they do not blossom until the fall.

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Goldenrod and Saw Palmettoes

We did a circuit of the trail here, about 1/2 mile, and then returned to the parking lot. We then drove to the far end of the parking lot to head to an observation tower there. But before we could get started, we heard a barred owl calling nearby. My husband quickly found it in a section of trees just opposite the parking lot.

Barred Owl

In this video, taken by my husband, you can see the owl and a whitetail deer he spotted earlier.



We observed the owl for a time and then returned to our walk to the observation tower. The tower allows you to see Lake Kissimmee. However, it was closed for repairs, and so we turned back.

Florida Scrub, Kissimmee State Park

On our way out of the park, we came upon a doe and her fawn.

Whitetail Doe and Fawn

Suddenly, a family of Sandhill Cranes came walking down the road towards us. They paused and stared in our window, I think hoping for a treat. We did not have one. The mother deer was upset by their presence and kept stomping her front feet on the ground in warning.

Sandhill Cranes

You can see the doe and her fawn and the sandhill cranes in this video.



All together, we saw 9 deer, a raccoon, the 2 herons, a turkey, 3 sandhill cranes, and a barred owl, as well as countless 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.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nikon d5000 - The First 30 Days

The photographs in this video were taken during the first 30 days with my new Nikon d5000 DSLR camera.

It is available at Photodex.
http://www.photodex.com/share/scw1217/bpkg8mg4

You can also view it at You Tube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3702opf_2zs



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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 11, 2010

Change My Mind!


Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God---what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. (Romans 12:2 GNB)
I want to bring you hope today. God CAN change your mind, change it from thinking all the sad, depressed, confused thoughts you struggle with to thoughts of peace, strength, and joy. He did it for me, but it took some steps on my part to get there.

THE WAY
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life... (John 14:6)
Complete and total restoration comes through Jesus Christ. There is no other way. Pills and therapies are only salves. They will not and cannot "fix" the inner core of your problem. Instead, they are a "cover up" with the ability to become destructive to your physical body. Only God knows the heart of man and how to heal it. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
True peace is found in Jesus. He must become your source, the very first thing you turn to for help. When you find yourself under mental distress, your reaction should be to seek for His presence and His wisdom.

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT)
I have heard it said many times, "More of God. Less of me," and there is great truth in that. The more of God I have in me, the less of "me" there is to deal with. And where mental trauma is concerned, you have to first admit to yourself that your "me" is not working so well. As long as you try to "fix it" on your own, you will not find deliverance.

There is such freedom in throwing yourself at God's feet and depending entirely on His grace, mercy, and forgiveness, because all of these are limitless. He will never run out or refuse to "give you any". One of the most liberating moments was realizing I didn't have to come up with a solution any more. Knowing I was not strong enough in myself and that God WOULD be there to hold me up, brought peace.

WORSHIP AND THE WORD


And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
It is essential to build yourself up in the Word, meditating in the Scriptures. This places God's wisdom into your heart, and God's wisdom is greater than man's wisdom. (Isaiah 55:9) You must know that anything "you can think up on your own" cannot reach the level of ability to heal that is in God's Word. So fill your heart and mind with His promises about your situation and leave no place in your mind for the devil's thoughts. (Ephesians 4:27)

It is also essential to learn to worship because worship brings in God's presence, and in God's presence there is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) Mental confusion is not from God. We know this because the Bible states, "God is not the author of confusion." (1 Corinthians 14:33) The best way to combat these moments of confusion is to place yourself in God's presence. Find music that ministers to you and begin to sing. Then begin to proclaim who God is.

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (John 3:30 NLT)
When God becomes greater in your thinking than the problem you are having, you will react differently to the stressers in your life. That was my biggest desire. Instead of being immediately fearful and subsequently falling apart, I wanted to respond peacefully. Many an hour did I spend saying, "God loves me. God loves me. God loves me. God is bigger than this problem. He is bigger. He is bigger. He is higher. He is broader. He loves me."

Time spent in worship, meditating on who God is, is time spent in peace. Worship allows all the thoughts of myself to vanish. As a result, I am no longer thinking about my troubles, but become solely focused on how truly great He is.

OBEY

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Please know that the "normality" of your life CAN return. You CAN "cease to care" about whatever seems so troubling right now. However, it requires effort and obedience. You MUST obey His directions. If He has asked you to go somewhere that makes you uncomfortable, then go there. The first time you may have to go trembling, but never use fear as an excuse for disobedience. You obey, and in the process, you place your trust in Him.

For here is the good news - when you do what God asks, He will meet you there, right where you are. You don't have to "find" Him, only to seek Him. (Matthew 7:7-8) He has promised to "be found". He also said He'd be "with you always". He even gave a great qualifier to that promise - He said, "to the end of the world" - and that is a LONG time! (Matthew 28:20)

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) (Hebrews 10:23)
God has a part to play in your healing, and you can depend on Him to play it for He said, "I will do it." (John 14:14) That is a definite promise. He WILL! Settle that into your heart once and for all. He who "hath begun a good work in you WILL perform it." (Philippians 1:6) God can be totally depended on!

SUPPORT

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (James 5:14)
Lastly, you do not have to walk this out on your own. You do not have to support yourself. There are people in your life who love you just as you are, no matter what your trauma is. When I am weak, I know who to call to pray for me. I know who will build me up with words of encouragement. I know who will hold my hand until I can physically move again.

Attend a faith-filled church, and place yourself in with the people of God as much as possible. True victory comes in knowing that there are times when I need the support of others and being willing to forgo any embarrassment in finding it. There is no "cover up" for healing from mental distress. You must seek support no matter how you think it makes you look.

LOVE

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
Above everything else, know that God loves you. His love is absolute and never changing. His love is HUGE! It is big enough and wide enough to swallow up all of your troubles. Nothing you have been troubled by is ever a surprise to Him. The Scripture in Hebrews says, "For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are." (Hebrews 4:15 AMP) Jesus has been there. He knows how you feel.

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. (3 John 1:2)
God's love never fails! (1 Corinthians 13:8) If I have nothing else, when I find myself in a moment of mental weakness (for that is all it is, a short, brief moment), I have God's love for me. He loved me enough to send His Son to die in my place. "Greater love hath no man..." (John 15:13) God's love is always enough!

*If you'd like me to pray with you about your situation, I can be reached at scw1217@yahoo.com.

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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 4, 2010

How The Other Half Lives

I think I know how the other half lives - the northern half that is. It is not often, living in Florida, that I begin to feel "stir crazy". But in the last week, this desire to "get out of here" has taken over my mentality. It finally hit me yesterday that this must be what feels like in a cold climate when the weather dips down to such a miserable temperature that you cannot possibly go outdoors.

In our case, it is not the cold that has done it, but the heat. A few days ago the temperature set a record. It was officially 102 degrees (F). Add to that about 85% humidity and you might liken it to being stuck in a sauna that you cannot escape from. (Official temperatures set aside, it has gotten that hot here many times before on backyard thermometers.) One has only to open to door to decide its just not worth it to go out there. The summer heat has become simply unbearable.

I suppose, since I have lived in Florida my entire life, that it has been this hot before. But memories being what they are, the past right now seems rosier than the present. This past winter when it was so very, very cold, I longed for spring. I couldn't wait for the first blush of flowers, the grass and trees to begin to green. I pictured myself outdoors surrounded by butterflies enjoying the fullness of my garden, and all that came to fruition.

But right now, I am to the point where I hate my couch. Since I can't go outdoors, it has become the spot to roost. Every now and then, I switch to the arm chair. It's a comfortable enough chair, but the angle is all wrong for the TV. Then again, sometimes I get off the couch and stare out the window. After all, the outside looks pretty from underneath the air conditioning.

There are only so many ways to entertain oneself indoors. Yesterday, I read all my emails. That was really bizarre because I get hundreds of emails every day, and I am really good at ignoring most of them. I figured since I am stuck in here, I might as well get some work done. I wrote two blogs, and here I am today writing another. Perhaps the heat is productive. I am even contemplating doing some housework.

Yet in my heart, I count the days left in August and September. Someday I will go outdoors again and actually enjoy it. I will sit on my porch and watch the birds, or take a walk in the park. Released from my indoor cave, I'll drink in the fresh, glorious air and say, "Isn't it nice outside."

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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 1, 2010

Metamorphosis

My observations of the metamorphosis of the Monarch butterfly

Each spring my garden is covered in Monarch butterfly caterpillars. They come because of the milkweed plants that are so prevalent there. After gorging themselves on the leaves, which is their sole source of food, these fat little "worms" crawl off to find a place to "hang". Once a location is selected, the caterpillars cannot be moved. In fact, if you try to detach them, they will most likely return to that same location.

The caterpillar will suspend itself into the shape of the letter "j" to prepare for creating its chrysalis. It takes less than 24 hours for the caterpillar to form the chrysalis. Eventually, the head of the caterpillar falls off, and a bright, green chrysalis appears.

Monarch Butterfly Chrysallis


The chrysalis remains green until the morning the butterfly is to emerge. At that point, it becomes completely clear, and you can observe the butterfly folded inside. This happens within about a week's span.

Monarch Chrysallis

Chrysalis

Don't blink! Within less than one minute the butterfly emerges. Close observation shows a split occurring to the chrysalis from which the butterfly will push itself out. I am always so amazed it could fit in there!

Monarch Butterfly Emerging Monarch Butterfly Emerging

You can watch two different Monarch butterflies emerge from their chrysalis in this video.


After emerging, the butterfly hangs upside down for several hours to dry its wings. It will turn back and forth to stimulate air flow. The drying time is very important because if the wings do not dry properly, they will be wrinkled and the butterfly will not be able to fly. Sadly, I've seen this happen.

Eventually, the new butterfly begins to pump its wings open-closed, open-closed. This helps to finish the drying process and also strengthens their wings. Then as the temperature of the day starts to rise, the butterfly flies away!

New Monarch Butterflies

Newly Emerged Monarch Butterfly

You can watch a newly emerged Monarch as it dries its wings in the video below.



*All of these images were taken with my Nikon d5000, including the video.
You can view more photos of this subject at my Webshots.

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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.

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