Thursday, April 28, 2011

A View of the Pond

"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence." - Ansel Adams
This is one of those days for me. Unable to focus on any one task, I sit and soak up the images of my life.

Water Lilies
First Water Lily

Water Lily

Colorata Water Lily

Leopard Frog
Young Leopard Frog

Leopard Frog

Female Bullfrog
Small Bullfrog

Male Blue Dasher Dragonfly
Male Blue Dasher Dragonfly

Damselflies
Male Damselfly with Mites

Unknown Species, Mating Damselflies

Enjoy this video view of our pond!



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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 22, 2011

To Gain Christ

After last week's blog, I find myself still stuck meditating on the apostle Paul's words in Philippians three. I heard a song this morning ("Lead Me To The Cross" by Seventh Day Slumber) that stirred it up in me again. One line in the song goes, "And everything I once held dear, I count it all as loss." This thought comes directly from Philippians 3:7-8.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (NKJV)
I think I know exactly how Paul felt when he uttered this thought. Nothing else in my life is worth the cost of the presence of God. I desire to "gain Christ" above everything. I like the words of an online commentary regarding verse seven.

“I now regard them all as so much loss. They were really a disadvantage - a hindrance - an injury. I look upon them, not as gain or an advantage, but as an obstacle to my salvation.” (Albert Barne's Notes on the Bible, e-sword.net)
This brings me to ask, What in your life is an obstacle to your salvation? Is it a particular person or group of people? Is it a hobby? What do you allow into your heart that hinders your knowledge of Christ?

Before fear entered my life, I had so many things between me and God. Looked upon separately, none of them were that harmful. Yet somehow taken together, each one chipped away at my commitment to God. "I would rather read a good novel than spend time in my Bible. I must watch certain television programs or my day is incomplete. If I drive in my car, the music has to be playing."

Now, I don't believe God is against fiction stories or television shows or even music. As Christians, we must always guard against what we hear, and there are still forms of acceptable entertainment. But for me, these things were hindrances to my spiritual growth. The problem was, I just couldn't see it.

I tell people all the time that my experience changed me forever. I am not the same person I once was. Yet the greatest change in me came without any effort on my part. My desire for all these other things just left, at once in an instant. Another commentary likened this to someone freed from drinking. It said, "So it is observed of a drunken man, when he comes to himself; and it is told him what he did when in liquor, he grieves at it...i.e. can take no pleasure in a reflection on it." (John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, e-sword.net)

I no longer take pleasure in any of those old things. I count them all as loss because I will have no obstacles between myself and Christ, myself and His anointing, myself and His presence.

I always stress to those who are where I was that in order to be well again, you have to treat yourself like who you are in the position that you are in. A person with a physical illness cannot do certain things, their sickness has given them temporary limitations. Well, in this same manner, until I was whole again, I had to work daily to strengthen my spirit man and go minute-by-minute at renewing my mind. I soaked myself in God's presence and drank of His Word, for these were my medicines.

What I didn't count on was that somehow in the process, I lost the desire for all those other things. Oh, as I became stronger, I felt it was okay again to read a little or watch some television, but the truth is my desires changed. What matters to me now is salvation, mine and yours. I'd much rather pray. I'd much rather worship. I'd much rather gain Christ.


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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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Consider It Done


For we are the circumcision, who give worship to God and have glory in Jesus Christ, and have no faith in the flesh (Php 3:3 BBE).

God's salvation is a complete work. It is more than spending eternity with Christ, but includes everything we need to live life to its fullest, its most abundant, and its most enjoyable TODAY and NOW. It provides peace, safety, prosperity, and healing in all its forms - mental, emotional, and physical. God has left nothing out.

I believe these words with every fiber of my being. I have lived them, and they cannot be taken away from me. Well, the other day, during my daily Bible reading, I came across verses 19-20 in Romans 4. Speaking of Abraham, it reads:


And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (Rom 4:19-20)

When I came to the words, "he considered not," I stopped short. Back in December of last year, I made a New Year's resolution and posted it here on my blog. I have made no secret of my desire for complete healing in my mind and body from the damages of fear, and THIS YEAR I determined to reach my goal. I will have it because God has promised it to me. Yet as I have walked my life out day-by-day, there are times when the reaching out is harder than others. Earnestly, I have sought the Lord's guidance on turning my thoughts further toward where they need to be to walk in faith. And this thought brings me back to Abraham.

Consider Not! Consider Him!

What does it say in Philippians 3:3? I love the BBE version of this chapter, especially. Paul here is speaking to the church and he tells them that of all the people who could trust in their flesh, he should be the greatest. He has more reason to trust in his own righteousness more than any other.

I think the idea of our "own righteousness" sometimes trips us up. But our righteousness is self-confidence. The King James Version states this verse, "Have no confidence in the flesh." This instruction is for every area of our lives. We have self-confidence anytime our idea outweighs God's. It is all those times you knew you should do a certain thing, act a particular way, or follow through with something He has spoken to your heart, yet you didn't do it. Instead, you argued. "But God...what if..."

That's just it though! There is no "what if" with God! I once heard a preacher say never to make "plan B" and this thought has always stuck with me. Anytime we prepare plan B, we release part of our trust in God and place it instead in ourself. It is like saying, "God might fail, so just in case, I will..." But, no, it doesn't work that way.

Abraham "considered not" his body. He knew how old he was. He knew it was impossible in the flesh. He knew how old Sara was. He didn't look at those things because he knew the promise of God and believed in God's faithfulness to perform it. Hebrews 3:1 tells us to, "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus." The word "consider" here (and in Romans 4) specifically means "to fix one's eyes and mind upon." (Thayer's Greek Definitions) So instead of fixing our thoughts on ourselves, instead of considering what we can do, we must instead fix them on Christ and who He is.

I like the words of a commentary, speaking of Romans 4:19-20.
“The nature and power of Abraham's faith are shown. He believed God's testimony, and looked for the performance of his promise, firmly hoping when the case seemed hopeless. It is weakness of faith, that makes a man lie poring on the difficulties in the way of a promise. Abraham took it not for a point that would admit of argument or debate. Unbelief is at the bottom of all our staggerings at God's promises. The strength of faith appeared in its victory over fears. God honours faith; and great faith honours God.” (MHCC, e-sword.net)
I love the phrase, "no argument or debate." In other words, Abraham didn't make plan B. Another commentary says, "He did not regard the fact that his body was now dead, as any obstacle to the fulfillment of the promise." (Barne's, e-sword.net) Abraham did not let his body become an obstacle to the fulfillment of God's promise in his life.

In my own life, I have let my physical weakness become that obstacle. There have been so many times when my confidence was in my flesh.

"If I can just get in the car, I'll be okay."
"If I can just get there, this will pass."
"If I pray for an hour first, then I..."

I mean well each time, yet my true confidence was in myself, not in God. And I realize this every time I fail - "Why couldn't I do that this time?" The truth is, sometimes trusting is hard. I have discovered the acting out of the Scripture's instructions is often hard. They are easily preached and easily heard, but difficult to DO, mostly because we trust in ourselves to do them. How much easier they become when we can "let go and let God!"

The final truth of it all is found in the last two verses of Philippians 3, and these are the Scriptures on where I stand and rejoice. (Rm 5:2)


For our country is in heaven; from where the Saviour for whom we are waiting will come, even the Lord Jesus Christ: By whom this poor body of ours will be changed into the image of the body of his glory, in the measure of the working by which he is able to put all things under himself. (Php 3:20-21 BBE)

It WILL BE changed! It will be changed TODAY and NOW! If I will just consider it done...


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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 10, 2011

White Chocolate Lime Cupcakes


I found this recipe on the internet and adapted it to my own cooking, so I can only take partial credit. But then again, what cook entirely creates a recipe from scratch unless he or she is on one of those cooking programs.

Now, first a few notes on my attempt at making these. The original recipe called for key limes, but as they are tremendously expensive, I used regular limes. I did actually grate the lime rind fresh (no bottled, dried zest), and I squeezed the juice of 1 lime into the recipe. I entirely forgot to add the chips and ended up dropping them onto the top of the cupcakes in the pan. However, I would mix them in next time. Also, I used real, actual butter. I am kind of against margarine. The thought of it sitting on the counter and not melting makes me not want to put it into my body.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard-sized muffin cups with foil liners. (The original recipe called for foil liners, but I use the foil liners anyhow because the cupcakes turn out better than the paper ones.)

Blend the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, lime zest, and lime juice. Alternate adding flour mixture and butter mixture in 1/3rds. Fold in chips. (As a final side note, the 1 cup measure of chips seems a lot to me. I'd probably half it for a firmer cupcake.)

Bake 18-20 minutes. Makes 12 cupcakes.

After they had entirely cooled, I iced these with pre-mixed cream cheese icing. I used a decorator bag, then put more chips on the top and some fresh lime zest.

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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.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sunrises and Flowers

I thought tonight I'd post a few recent photographs.

After I woke up the other morning, I saw the most marvelous sunrise. I love early mornings when the fog silently creeps across the lawn. The world remains quiet but for a few birds singing - it's the BEST time of day to me.

Sunrise

The following day the sun returned again as glorious as the day before. How wonderful to stand and admire it again!

Sunrise 4/8/2011

Sunrise

God has blessed me so very much to live where I can see each new day dawn in such splendor.

Our hummingbird has returned (male ruby throat hummingbird) and the first gladiolus is blossoming in the garden. I tie these two thoughts together because one evening he was feeding from the center of the flowers. He buzzes by, sips, and is gone. So fast!

Gladiolus

Wild orchids are flowering in the lawn again this year. There aren't as many this spring, yet they are still so very delicate and beautiful.

Ladies Tresses Orchid

A few days ago, I captured this shot of a female damselfly, species as yet unidentified, hovering over our garden pond. It's rather unusual that she let me get so close for the photo.

Female Damselfly

For my final thought, I post this video of a white ibis flock that walked across our lawn. I made the video for a photographer friend in Arizona who doesn't see these birds very often. They are so common here that they are frequently overlooked.


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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 1, 2011

Yet Another Blog About Trust


For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God's power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance (Rm 1:16 AMP).

I tell people all the time that the words I write are usually written as much to myself as they are for the benefit of others. They are my personal meditations of what the Lord is dealing with me about. Well, it seems the subject of "trust" has already come up three times, and this tells me I have really had to work on it.

Trust In The Lord (August 19, 2009)
Trust (November 21, 2010)
Life A Life of Surrender (December 15, 2010)

Now, I took the time, before writing today, to read each of these and can truthfully say I do not regret or take back one word. In fact, instead I find my memory refreshed. (This is the benefit of writing things down.) Their simple truths flow along with the ultimate purpose of this particular blog.

Trust is relationship.


The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (Ps 18:2)

In order to develop trust, there must first be a relationship. You cannot trust without knowing in whom you are trusting. They must have a willingness to work on my behalf. I cannot place my trust if there is no "want to" help me.

Trust is submission.


Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Jam 3:7).

More specifically, trust is submission to the power and authority of another. I trust someone when I know they have something I do not. They might have more time, more strength, or more wisdom than I. But ultimately, they are capable of doing what I cannot, so I submit, or yield, to that.

Trust is sacrifice.


So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple (Lk 14:33 AMP).

True trust requires complete surrender and great sacrifice. No longer will I do things my way (Remember, I am trusting in another because I am not capable of handling the situation.). I sacrifice my methods, allowing another to choose and perform the task. This step is perhaps the hardest of all, but it leads me to my final point.

Trust is rest.

Trust in the LORD...Delight thyself also in the LORD...Commit thy way unto the LORD...Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him (Ps 37:3,4,5,7).

When I am trusting, I have no fear about the final outcome. Instead, I rest, knowing that the one I trust in will do what's best for me. I submit myself to them fully and sacrifice my own desires for theirs.


Photo by my husband
Floating Leaf, Amicalola Falls, Georgia

In order to talk about trust, we have to talk about anti-trust or "self" control. For this, I'd like to offer a visual analogy. Complete trust, like the leaf above, is being in a state of total suspension. It is being, in fact, out of control. All the "self" control I have is gone. Instead, things are in God's control. I no longer lean on my own knowledge, my ability to organize, or my mental capacity, and here's what grabs me the most about trust, because I realize I am unable!

Continually, we try to do what we know we cannot. We expect ourselves to find a way to fix things that are very plainly out of our control. I think of my physical healing here. There are things I am believing God to "fix" in my body. I have SAID my faith is in God, yet when the stress of my inability comes up and my body is failing again, I still mentally try to correct the situation and I become afraid. "What if I can't..." The truth is I can't, and there lies the trust issue.

In the area of physical healing, I have to trust God completely. I must know He is willing. I know it because He and I have a relationship. He is my heavenly Father; we spend time together. I daily feel His presence in my life; I hear His heartbeat, we are that close. There isn't any doubt in my heart He loves me and desires for me to be strong. I then submit to His power and authority. He has everything I need. When I feel I cannot walk out of my house, He takes my hand and walks with me. When my mind is troubled, His anointing brings peace. I rely on His omnipotence, knowing He will AND He can.

As a result, I offer the sacrifice of praise. (Heb 13:15) It's a sacrifice, because I relinquish my control. I let go of my ideas and plans in favor of His. It's also a sacrifice because sometimes I don't want to do it. Some days it seems hard for me to leave home; my physical body and my mind want to collapse and give up. But instead, I obey His voice and with praise in my lips, believe in His promise to get me there and bring me home.

True trust is absent of fear. As long as I entertain fear, some part of me remains in control. Yet if I know God does not need my help, I can then rest in Him. Instead of terror and panic, He is all I need to remain suspended. What freedom this brings! Like a child placing his reliance in a parent or grandparent to supply for him, to carry him the places he needs to go, and to keep him safe, I don't have to worry any longer for my trust is in God.


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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.

My Vacation Videos 2010

I had enough time yesterday, so I reorganized my vacation videos from our trip to the Appalachian and Great Smoky Mountains in November of 2010. There are three of them, and I thought you'd like to take a look. They are presented in the order of events for the trip.

Our Georgia Vacation, Part 1


Our Georgia Vacation, Part 2


Amicalola Falls


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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

The deadline approaches. To receive April's book, you must be a member by midnight April 29th. The email will go out on the 30th. Thi...