Friday, December 31, 2010

Yearning

It came to me this morning that just as much as I yearn for God, he yearns that much more for me. Psalm 42:1 speaks directly from my heart, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." Panteth, that's an intense longing for. I long for him. I long for his presence.

But did you know he has the same longing for you and me? In fact, his longing is more intense because behind it is Jesus' sacrifice, behind it is the power and anointing to get things accomplished in our lives.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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 8:35-39)
We don't give God enough credit for being as big as he really is. Time and circumstances go by and somehow the amazing things he's done fade from our view. Instead, we are to be like David who in Psalm 119 fully expressed his longing. He said, "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times." (Ps 119:20)

Have you yearned for God that much? Until your soul breaks? A yearning that intense demands satisfaction. It becomes the sole focus of our day, our month, our life. We become consumed with it, and in the process all the other things around us fade from view. It is as the words of the old hymn, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus) That's longing!

That size longing comes from constantly viewing who God is, keeping him before us at all times. Again, hear the words of King David.
I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself. (Psalms 119:52)
He remembered. He spent time meditating "day and night" on the great things of God. He looked into the face of God, and in the process he found comfort. (Jos 1:8) He found peace, rest, and yet more hunger.

Our yearning for God needs to be as magnificent, as huge, as Jesus' was for us when he stood on earth facing the cross.

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23)
Think about that. I yearning for him; he yearning for me until I become one with God, until I know his voice. (Jn 10:27) That's marvelous!

Never doubt that God loves you, my friend. His love is SO huge we cannot begin to comprehend it. God is big! God is love! All the time.

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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, December 26, 2010

My Testimony on Video

My Testimony, Given at Auburndale Life Church, 11/28/2010



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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, December 24, 2010

Steve's Digicams.com Article - What I Learned About Travel Photography

I have a new article up at Steve's Digicams. This is an expanded edition of my earlier blog article by the same name. I cannot reduplicate it here, but you can read it at the link below.

What I Learned About Travel 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.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My New Year's Resolution

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
I wonder if it's too early to make a New Year's Resolution. Actually, I've never made one. I am a firm believer in only committing myself to something I fully intend to do (I get that from my mother) so making a resolution is a big deal for me.

This year a number of important things will happen, a couple of them I will not reveal yet. However, one in particular is my firmest resolve. I WILL receive the fullest completion of my healing. I refuse to give up. God has promised it to me.

I have been meditating on the above two scriptures lately, and you know, the more I do the more I see that they agree with my resolution. The word "peace" in the Greek means "security, safety, prosperity, harmony". (G1515, Thayer's, e-sword.net) In the original Hebrew it expands to include "health, completeness, soundness, quiet, contentment, friendship". (H79654, BDB, e-sword.net) As if those do not make these verses impact your heart enough, there is the word "keep" to consider.

God has promised to KEEP me in peace! Something that is kept never leaves. It is there all the time. The word in both Greek and Hebrew means "guard". God is guarding my heart and my mind with his peace - and his health, his prosperity, his security, his soundness, all those things the word signifies. It's a complete salvation. God has left nothing out.

That's my New Year's Resolution - I will have my completeness. I WILL have it. I WILL! And God gets all the glory.

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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, December 19, 2010

Be Prepared


And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. (Eph 6:15 AMP)
The story in Matthew 25 of the five foolish virgins illustrates this scripture perfectly. I have always equated that particular story with preparation for the coming of Christ, and this is a right interpretation. However, preparation is more than simply sitting around waiting for the Second Coming. That smacks of laziness to me. No, we must stay prepared on a daily basis so that whatever comes at us, we are ready.

It makes no sense for a marathon runner to not exercise. How will he then finish the race, much less place and win an award? He physically won't be able to run all those miles. Mentally, he won't be strong enough to combat the stresses of long-distance running. Well, not spending time talking with God during your day makes no sense either. We ask God to answer us when we are in a time of desperation, but neglect him the rest of the time. This is not good enough for me!

Notice the full description in Ephesians 6:15 - ready to meet the enemy in firm-footed stability. I like that description. I have been in a place before where nothing felt stable, and it was a very dark place indeed. Since then, I have dedicated my heart to seek out the Gospel daily. Every day I spend time praying in the Spirit. The Word of God says this strengthens us. (Jude 20) Every day I spend time in worship. This places me in God's presence where bondages are broken and I can better hear the Father's heart. (Is 10:27) I do these things every day, no matter how I feel.

Someone recently asked me how long each day do I do them. My response was that I do them until I am ready, until I can do what I need to do that day. Some days that might be 10 minutes, others three hours. If I need three hours to be ready to go, then I get up early and take three hours. How ever long it takes, I do it. I am in myself not strong enough to combat life; I am only able because I stay prepared.

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38)
I won't be caught again with my heart and head empty and my thoughts vain. Instead, I will be "strong in the Lord and the power of His might." (Eph 6:10) I will be ready! I will be prepared.

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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, December 15, 2010

Live a Life of Surrender


Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you. (James 4:7 CEV)
I like this particular translation because it uses the word "surrender". In order to "surrender" something we have to act; surrender is a verb. And part of the action of "surrender" is its requirement that we give up everything else. If you think about that, without the "giving up" it isn't really surrender at all.
All to Jesus I surrender
All to him I freely give
I will ever love and trust him
In his presence daily live.

I surrender all
I surrender all
All to thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all. *
We sing songs about surrender all the time. But how long have you really sat and thought about how much you have to do to become truly surrendered?

God's requirements are always black and white. In James 5:17, we are told, "Let your Yes be Yes, and your No be No." (BBE) Deuteronomy 30:19 states, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life." Then again in the book of James we find, "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." In each of these verses, it is unequivocal what the options are. We must choose one way or the other. Even more definite are the words of the Lord in Revelation 3:15-16. Here He is even more assured when He says, "I wish you were cold or hot." (GW) There is no halfway in surrender. Either you do it or you don't.

I have good news though! The blessings of surrender far outweigh anything you can accomplish on your own. Think first about WHO you are surrendering to. This is the God of heaven and earth, the Maker of it all, our Savior, Healer, and very Best Friend! This is He who can count the hairs on your head. This is Love itself! (Matthew 10:30;1 John 4:16) Surrendering to God is relinquishing yourself into the hands of He who loves you the most; He who sent His Son to die for you!

"Live a life of surrender"

When God spoke those words to me, I knew immediately what He meant. You see, I once reached a point in my life where physically, mentally, and emotionally I had nothing left. I was completely empty with no hope and no joy. There was literally nothing left of "me". I can remember thinking, "Either God steps in and fixes 'me' or I will remain broken because I can't do it. I can't lift myself up." There was nothing left to do BUT surrender.

Surrendering to God is trusting Him to help you take every step. It means deliberately reliquishing any reliance you have on yourself, whether that is talent, skill, or knowledge. You no longer ask, "What can I do?" but "What will GOD do?" because your dependence is now on Him. Think of a baby. Babies are totally surrendered to their parents. They cannot do anything for themselves so it's the parents job to support them.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)
It's kind of exciting really, living in surrender, because you know you didn't do any of it. When you are truly surrendered, you are free of weights and pressures. You see, surrender places you in the rest of God. This is why His burden is light. It's HIS BURDEN, not mine.

Surrender places us into a position where our every emotion, every frustration, every sorrow of heart, every business choice, every financial mess, every health problem are His. Then, when I find myself picking the burden back up again, I remind myself, "You messed yourself up last time, Suzanne. Remember how dependable YOU are!"

"Oh, right! You're right. I'm sorry, Lord. I surrender. You fix it!" And He does, every single time.

*"I Surrender All" words by J.W. Van Deventer

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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, December 10, 2010

I Made It!

Suzanne, Ocoee River, Tennessee
Suzanne, Ocoee River, Tennessee

Well, I made it. I made it to forty. How does it feel? Physically, exactly like thirty-nine. Mentally, I feel like I have accomplished something. Emotionally, I am happier than I've ever been.

God gets credit for that. He is so good, so faithful. He is so much bigger than any problem I will ever face.

I have much to look forward to and much to look back on. I kind of like that idea. I like being "half-way". I have no complaints.

Happy Birthday to me!

Photos from the past
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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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Steve's Digicams Article - December 2010 - Tips For Taking Holiday Photos

My article for December 2010 is now up at Steve's Digicams. I cannot reproduce it here, but it can be read at the link below.

Tips For Taking Holiday Photos


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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, December 5, 2010

Exposed to the Light



Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Every time someone asks me to publicly share my testimony, I marvel. Recently, I spoke before the largest crowd to date, and truthfully, I have had a difficult time processing it since. In myself, I feel like nobody. I've led an unremarkable life and done nothing spectacular.

But the Lord has shown me a few truths about sharing. The first involves faith. Left on my own, standing before people is difficult. I am perfectly happy supporting others, letting them have the spotlight. In fact, I like writing better because it gives me time to form my words. Speaking in public requires faith; I must believe God will give me the words. Faith is the route to victory. We read this in Revelation 12:11 where it says, "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony." (MKJV) When I step out in faith, I walk further out of the bondage of fear and more into heavenly freedom.

The second truth about sharing is obedience. I have to obey without question the instruction God has placed in my heart. I have to obey no matter who I think I am or how small I feel. The apostle Paul urged Timothy, his son in the faith, to not be ashamed of his testimony. (1 Timothy 1:8) The truth is obedience isn't always easy. It requires great trust. Trust sometimes feels like you are walking into a place blind. You can't see what's ahead. You don't know how things will turn out. You are relying on another to complete the task.

The third truth about sharing the Lord gave me recently, and I think it is the one which brings the most change. He spoke to me through an unusual analogy. However, think first about light as it is spoken of in the Bible. We are told that salvation moves us from the kingdom of darkness into the light. (Colossians 1:13) Second Corinthians 4:4 refers to "the light of the glorious gospel". Jesus is called "the light of the world". (John 8:12;12:46) Also, we know that "God is light" and He contains no darkness. (1 John 1:5)

Now think in the natural. Naturally speaking, we know light dispels darkness. Darkness cannot remain where light is. But what else happens when the light turns on? Let's read a scripture to find out.

People who do what is wrong hate the light and don't come to the light. They don't want their actions to be exposed. But people who do what is true come to the light so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen. (John 3:20-21 GW)
Here we see a fantastic truth - Light exposes the work of darkness! When the light is turned on, nothing can hide. Jesus stated this in Matthew 5:14. He said, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." Do you see that? It CANNOT BE HIDDEN! Think about that for a moment. What happens when I share my testimony? When I stand up there in faith, when I choose to obey, I am in effect turning the light on. And in the process, I expose to the light all the darkness the devil has tried to hide in my life.

Here is where the analogy comes in. He reminded me of an incidence that happened a few nights ago. I had gotten out of bed to get a drink. The house was dark and I didn't turn any lights on. When I walked through the doorway into our kitchen, everything seemed quiet and still. But when I opened the door of the refrigerator, the light from inside it lit up the doorway and there right above where I had walked in was an enormous cockroach! Do you know that that cockroach was there when it was dark? Just because I couldn't see it and was unaware of its presence doesn't mean it wasn't affecting my household. Yet it was only when the light was on that I could know where it was and get rid of it. In the dark, I could swing the broom at it, but I might break something else. In the light, it becomes very plain.

Here's another fact about cockroaches, whenever you turn on a light during the night, they flee. Exposed, they run to escape the light! In this same way, this is the ultimate power of my testimony. My testimony exposes to the light of God's grace and glory all the devil's bondage. In effect, it turns the light of God on. Like that roach, the devil has no choice but to flee from theLight. This is what it says in James 4:7.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
He WILL flee. That is unquestionable. And he will flee because of the "word of my testimony" and the promise of God that backs it up.

I realize now that my testimony is not about who I am. It doesn't matter how insufficient I feel. It's not even about what happened to me. What happened to me and how through Christ I overcame it may help someone else. But the power of my testimony is actually in what it does IN me. I submit to God's instructions; I obey; I step out in faith; I trust Him to give me the words to say; and that turns on all the lights.

Then it's "I got you!" to the devil, and that is amazing!

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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, December 3, 2010

What I Learned About Travel Photography

A puddle of leaves, Toccoa River, Georgia
A Puddle of Leaves, Toccoa River, Georgia

All I have to do to want to go on a trip somewhere is spend an evening reading travel photography tips and viewing the accompanying photographs. Suddenly, I am prepared to jump up and go. But then I wake up and realize that I am "me" and "me" doesn't like to travel, not really. Oh, I like it when I get there. The world is a beautiful place. But it's the "getting there" that I don't particularly enjoy.

That said, I do get out once in a while. Personally, I love to visit the Appalachian Mountains. Most people know that about me. In my opinion, there's something marvelous to be said for standing on the top of a ridge, gazing across the endless miles, just thinking about how big it all is and how small I am in the midst of it.

Well, over the last nine years of my travels with family in tow, I have learned a few things about travel photography. Call these "common sense tips", if you will, and in the process, release any stress you have at achieving perfection. We'd all like to get there someday, but seldom do.

Aska Farm, Georgia
Aska Farm, Georgia

Common Sense #1 - You will always have too much gear

No matter how well you try to consolidate your gear, no matter how much "stuff" you leave at home, suddenly you will realize you don't know where you put it all. I always at some point find myself asking, "WHY did I bring this?" Oh, I always mean well. I intend to use all the "tools of the trade" I am carrying, but eventually out of sheer weariness, I give up.

"Do I have to take that out AGAIN?"

My bag of photo gear becomes more and more disorganized as the days progress. This filter is in the wrong case; that lens cover is buried underneath something where I can't possible get to it. Knowing ahead of time that this will happen to me is such relief. I embrace it in advance and become willing to look like the "dumb tourist" I really am.

Common Sense Tip #2 - Your settings will be wrong

At some point, you will take a series of photographs, leave the location (never to return), and then realize you left the ISO on 800. I try to remember to check my settings before I take a shot, but inevitably I forget. This is part of being normal. Take a deep breath, kick yourself, and then get over it. At those moments, we are at our most human, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Fallen Leaf
Fallen Leaf

Common Sense Tip #3 - Embrace your errors

Let's say it together, "I WILL mess up." Now, don't you feel better? This tip maybe goes back to tip #2. Tell yourself you will make mistakes and determine to learn something. I have gleaned more from viewing what I did wrong than I ever did while patting myself on the back. All those 'I-should-haves' become an advantage when you let go of them.

Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia
Fall, Anna Ruby Falls, Helen, Georgia

Common Sense Tip #4 - They will always walk ahead of you

Stop trying to keep up with the crowd. People who don't have a camera will always walk away and leave you standing there alone. The fact is, taking photographs consumes time, whether the people with you realize that or not.

It's all a balancing act. Tell yourself that true skill comes from your ability to correctly take the shot all the while not losing track of your companions. After all, they aren't doing half of what you are or toting all that gear, yet they will still want to look at your photographs once you return home.

Asters, Ocoee River, Tennessee
Asters, Ocoee River, Tennessee

Common Sense Tip #5 - The perfect moment will come and they will be hungry

Remember? You are traveling with people without cameras. Eventually, they will want to eat and it WILL be at that most important moment. This is especially true if you have children. The fact is, children whine (and some adults). Learn how to say, "In a minute," and then ignore them. (Alternatively, knowing this will happen to you, prepare yourself in advance with a selection of snack foods.)

Another twist on this tip, is the guy who comes up behind you to ask where you are from or what gear you are using. Part of traveling is being really patient with strangers and somehow at the same time staying polite.

Common Sense Tip #6 - Someone will take your spot

This brings me to my next observation. Someone WILL take your spot. This happened to me just this last trip. In my case, it was a guy with a HOG of a camera. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, it is someone with a lesser model or unsupervised children who are the obstruction. You have to decide at this moment if you want to wait it out for that location or fall back to tip #3 and get behind your group again.

Part of photography is in the "oh well" times when you are left with only your memory of the spot and not necessarily a photograph. I always say my best photographs are in my mind.

Appalachian Trail at Clingman's Dome
The Appalachian Trail at Clingman's Dome, Great Smoky Mountains Park

Common Sense Tip #7 - Someone will now think you are a portrait photographer

This someone does not have to be your family. Your family tends to know you photograph bugs and flowers. Instead, it is usually an acquaintance viewing your recent travel photographs, who then asks you to come photograph their birthday party. And yes, it sounds really lame when you say, "I don't take pictures of people." You now sound like a recluse who doesn't get out.

Red Oak
Red Oak, Richard B Russell Scenic Byway, Georgia

Now, please realize these tips are presented "tongue in cheek". My ultimate goal in writing them down, besides the humor and the fact you know I am right, is to relieve you of any stress that things will go perfectly. I have found that it is the errors on a trip, the mistakes you didn't account for, that make for the best stories. If everything always went perfectly, what would there be to talk about?

Knowing that, take the time to be human. Move past the difficulties and enjoy your travels for what they really are - memories created with people you love.

*I'd like to give a shout out to my brother who helped me hash out some of these tips. It seems our list got longer and longer the more we talked about 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.

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...