Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Photographs

Here are this week's photographs:

An orchid, given to me by my aunt, continues to flower. However, the edges of the petals are turning brown.

Orchid

An iris that didn't bloom last year has bloomed six times so far this year.

Unknown Iris

I had some time alone Saturday, so I went for a walk. Along the way I encountered a squirrel and located a patch of wildflowers.

Gray Squirrel

Daisy Fleabane
Daisy Fleabane

Daisy Fleabane

I love black & white photographs. It works especially nice with trees and tree limbs. I added a filter effect called, Holga Processing, to the original color image to achieve this result.

Live Oak

These large Robber Flys are the fierce predator of the insect world, not something you want to tangle with...if you're an insect.

Robber Fly

Here is the bloom from a dwarf variety of powder puff growing at my mother's house.

Dwarf Powder Puff

My grandmother's amaryllis continue to bloom and remind everyone of her. These are at my mother's house.

Red Amaryllis

Red Amaryllis

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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, March 21, 2012

Standing Tall In Difficult Times

I’ve been reading an unusual book on relationships. Though it is written from a psychologist’s standpoint, my faith is so tied into everything I believe, every decision I make, that I would hear what God’s Word says on the subject.

She said, “Stop straddling the fence. Make a choice and own the consequences.” (paraphrased)

I actually liked that thought. However, I asked myself why. Why, and what does the Bible say? Does it agree or disagree? I found my answer in two places. The first comes from the book of James.


If any of you lack wisdom…let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)

Ah! Straddling the fence is the same as being “double minded”. You can’t decide which thing you want, so you place one foot over the left side and the other foot over the right. God’s Word says this brings instability, and I don’t want that!

The other example in found in the book of Revelation.


I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16)

Here, God pleads for us to make a choice. He says, “Take a stand. Don’t be lukewarm.” Notice, He also gives the consequence. Have you ever eaten something that didn’t taste like you expected? Did you grimace and swallow anyway or spit it out? Well, God has said what He will do, and I don’t want that either!

But what happens now? You climb off the fence. You will follow God’s answer to your situation no matter what. What is next? Perhaps you are facing an especially difficult situation at your job. Maybe it’s your health or a family relationship that is troubling you.

The author said: “Maybe it’s time to rethink where you are standing as you attempt to resolve your problems…It’s when you come down, determine your course, and start the journey that your life will begin to change. You can’t stand until you find your legs.”

When I read that, the Lord gave me a simple phrase. He said, “Know where to stand. Know how to stand. Know why you are standing.” Here is a powerful truth.

Where do we stand?


And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6)

We stand in heavenly places with Christ. Every situation we face we approach from the standpoint of who Christ is IN us. There are 78 uses of the phrase “in Christ” in the New Testament. It offers everything from hope to righteousness. I encourage you to study them individually. Find out what Christ has done IN you. Then grab hold of the name of Jesus and the power of God that Jesus’ death and resurrection provided and determine no matter what, you will stand.

How do we stand?


So then, take your stand! Fasten truth around your waist like a belt. Put on God's approval [righteousness, KJV] as your breastplate. Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace. In addition to all these, take the Christian faith as your shield. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Also take salvation as your helmet and the word of God as the sword that the Spirit supplies. (Ephesians 6:14-17 GW)

Know this! We do not stand unarmed and inefficient to the task before us. Our heavenly Father has provided everything we need. We have truth. We know God can give us the answer. (Jn 17:17) We have righteousness, or right-standing, with God. This is our new place in life. It is what we now are, being cleansed from sin through faith in Christ. (1Jn 1:9) We seek peace. We pursue it. This means walking in forgiveness toward others, even with those who seem to be against us. (1Pe 3:11) We walk in faith for faith is confidence in God. It is belief that He is faithful to keep His promises. (1Th 5:24) Lastly, we live aware of the complete promises of God’s magnificent salvation. We believe in “exceeding abundantly above,” and we wield God’s Word against the thoughts and strategies of the devil, knowing we are NOT powerless. (Eph 3:20;Heb 11:1;Mk 11:24-25)

The author talks of having realistic expectations. Where man is concerned there is some truth there. You cannot expect of someone what he or she cannot or will not produce. Doing so sets you up for failure. However, if you put God into the situation, then nothing is impossible. He can do what we cannot. (Mt 17:20;Lk 1:37) With God on our side, we must instead raise our expectations. (Ps 118:6)

Why are we standing?

Why not give up and walk away? Because God gave us both choices for any difficulty and then provided the answer.


I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Choose life and both you AND YOUR SEED will live. My choices today affect more than just my own pathway. Everything I do also affects the future of my daughter and the future of whatever grandchildren I might have. This spurs me on to never give up. Besides, why give up when God promises life?


The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

I know sometimes the way out seems hard. I’ve never said learning to live fearless wasn’t hard for me. On the contrary, it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. However, I walked forward each minute of each day hand-in-hand with the Father, knowing where I stood in Christ, why I was standing there, and how I was going to get out. I couldn’t always see beyond the next step, but that was ok. For the next step was all I needed to get where I wanted to go.

The author of this book had one other statement that I think closes out these thoughts perfectly. She said, “Both choices require that you see what you have – the past, see what you want – the present; and see what can be – the future.”

Again, I ask, “What does God’s Word say? What does He provide for my past, present, and future?”


Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

I think that is more than enough!

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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.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Short Piece of Advice (For Writers)

This advice takes the form of a popular children's song:

Be careful little eyes what you see.

The best advice I can give any writer learning to write is to watch whose advice you take. I have read hundreds of books, probably thousands, in my 41 years. I have been proofreading for 25 of those years. Consistently, I see people handing out advice who don't know what they are talking about.

So how to judge?

Look at their track record. How long have they been giving writing advice? Look at their success. Who recommends them and why? Look at their networking. How many services do they offer? Do they write often? Most of all, read their articles. Are you learning something from what they say? Is someone else?

Also, large organizations don't necessarily make for good advice. I appreciate someone's references, but their ability to write means more.

Here are my favorite writing advice columns:

Janice Hardy
http://blog.janicehardy.com/

Cecil Murphey
http://themanbehindthewords.com/

Daily Writing Tips
http://www.dailywritingtips.com/

And don't forget, writers must learn about words. It's not enough to rely on an editor or proofreader to correct you. I highly recommend signing up for the newsletters at the websites below.

Alpha Dictionary
http://www.alphadictionary.com/index.shtml

World Wide Words
http://worldwidewords.org/

My last piece of advice is turn on the punctuation/grammar checking tools in Microsoft Word. Believe it or not, it WILL help you prevent many common mistakes.

A good writer will always admit they continue to learn their craft. They strive to become better and are willing to admit their failings. However, be careful whose advice you take along the way. Form good habits and never stop growing.

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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, March 18, 2012

Sunday Photographs

This week's photos start with a sunrise. I've seen many nice sunrises from my front porch and they never grow old.

Sunrise

This last set were all taken on a nature walk with my husband in the Green Swamp. It was quite beautiful there.

Saw Palmettoes
Saw Palmetto Leaves

Ferns
Ferns

This Zebra Swallowtail landed on a palmetto front right in front of me.
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

Pinewoods Trail
Pinewood Trail

I love wildflowers. My husband and I spent considerable time trying to identify the many we saw. I'm unsure what this one is, but it is one of the more unusual we saw.
Unknown Wildflower
Link
It was a lovely day. We ended our walk tired and thirsty, but happy. To view the complete set of images - visit my Webshots album.


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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, March 11, 2012

Sunday Photographs

Here are the photographs for the week of March 4, 2012.

This grass blooms each spring, and somehow, it always appeals to me with its pinkish color. I have yet to identify the species.
Unknown Grass

My spring garden is coming along beautifully.
My Spring Garden

The snapdragons are the stars!
Snapdragon

It seems to have been a great year for azaleas, with the warmer weather. I have only one bush, but it did spectacularly.
Azalea

Here is a Blanket Flower in my garden.
Blanket Flower

The spring leaves on our cassia tree proved to be a draw to Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies as it is now covered in caterpillars. Visit this link to see what the adult looks like.
Cloudless Sulphur Caterpillar

Last photo is over another green anole I came across as he wandered down the side of my house.
Green Anole

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, March 8, 2012

Expectations

And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. (Acts 3:5)

I was thinking in the wee hours this morning about the predicament of a friend. “Why, Lord,” I prayed, “Does she struggle with that? Strangely, she seems content.”

And from inside me, came a still, small voice, “Her expectations aren’t high enough.”

Wow. This is a revelation to me.

Thinking of the stories in the Bible, we see this same problem. In Acts 3, the lame man expected only alms. He was satisfied to sit daily at the gate and receive the pittance people gave him.

Then there’s Moses standing at the burning bush, a miracle in itself. God shares what will be his part in the deliverance of Israel, and what does Moses say? “I am not eloquent…I am slow of speech…slow of tongue.” (Ex 4:10)

How about Gideon? He’s threshing wheat when an angel shows up and calls him a “mighty man of valor.” How does he respond? “Who me? How can I save Israel? My family’s poor and I am the least among them.” (Jdg 6:15)

Now think about Simon Peter. Out fishing all night, he’s caught nothing when Jesus tells him to let down his nets once again. Incredulous, Peter replies, “But, but, but…we tried that already.” (Lk 5:5)

A Pastor I respect has said many times, “I don’t want a cabin in a corner of Gloryland. I want a real pad.” As humorous as that statement is, there is some truth to it. It’s not that we lack expectation. Perhaps you desire only the small cabin in the corner. Yet let me ask you this. What is wrong with expecting a mansion? Maybe you need to raise your standards.

Look at Abraham. He did. He’s willing to sacrifice the dearest thing to him – his son. He builds an altar and prepares to make the sacrifice, and Isaac pops up and asks, “Hey Dad, where’s the lamb?” What did Abraham say?

“My son, God will provide himself a lamb. “ (Ge 22:13)

Now look at David. Goliath is taunting the army of Israel. Seeing this, David, unlike all the older, stronger men around him, asks, “Who does this guy think he is?” (1Sa 17:26)


Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Ephesians 3:20)

Now I’m not talking about excess. The Bible warns against that. (Mt 23:25;Lk 12:16) We are told not to have things for the sake of having things. Yet we are also told God can do exceeding abundantly above anything we can even THINK of. That’s a pretty amazing thing!

So you need a job. Expect a position that more than supplies your needs. Don’t stop at, “God please give me something, anything,” and yet you still can’t pay your bills. Expect a position that fits with your personality and talents in an environment you enjoy. Expect an amount of pay that more than supplies your needs.

So you need a house. Why settle for something too small with too high of a mortgage? Why have a mortgage at all?

“But,” you say, “My faith isn’t big enough for that.”

Yeah, well, mine wasn’t either. I lived in a location that made me unhappy for many years. Frankly, I didn’t expect to ever get out. I had no faith at all for it – none. However, in the matter of year, I was in a brand, new house that my husband and I designed, completely paid for. How did that happen? God proved Himself once again to be more than enough.

Perhaps our struggle continues because we aren’t expecting Him to do enough. We’re asking for a cup of water, when God wants to give us an entire pail. Didn’t He say He’d supply all our needs ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES IN GLORY? (Php 4:19) How rich is that?

I don’t know about you, but I’m raising my expectations. I’m expecting God to do “on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt 6:10) Then, when I’m in THE BLESSING God has promised for my life, I will be able to better help those around me. I can be the one who blesses you, instead of always the one who needs to receive. That sounds pretty grand to me!

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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.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Steve's Digicams - Slow Growth Photography

This month's article at Steve's Digicams is my recent walk down memory lane and a look at how my photography has changed over time. Enjoy and leave a comment!


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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, March 4, 2012

Sunday Photographs

I thought I'd institute Sunday as the day to share photographs I've taken the week before. To catch up, here's a few from the past couple weeks. Enjoy!

Pansies and Verbena
Pansies and Verbena

Carolina Jasmine
Carolina Jasmine

Flatwood Plum Blossoms
Flatwood Plum Blossoms

Orchid (My aunt gave me this a few years ago and for a few years it didn't bloom. Last year it finally had one flower, but this year it has six!)
Orchid

Green Anole
Green Anole

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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, March 1, 2012

Scenes From Life

It's funny how life sometimes plops you right into a scene from a book. I've had this happen to me twice recently.

One day it was while waiting for my doctor to return from lunch. We're sitting there, my husband, my daughter, and I, in the car waiting when an elderly men shows up. Now, having been to my doctor after lunch before, I already know the doors will be locked. They always are, and this is why I didn't get out of my car. However, this man either didn't know it or didn't believe it because he had to try the knob. When the door doesn't open, he then stares at the handle as if it will somehow change. Deciding it is really locked, he moves over and sits on the window sill (low, brick window).

Next approaches another elderly man. This one has a forked beard and a strange smile on his face. "Define 'strange,'" you say. Well, it was the I-have-a-secret kind of strange. He also tries the door knob. Forget that there is another man sitting there outside the office in the heat and us in our car. Perhaps the knob will open for him magically. It doesn't. Still smiling weirdly, he goes and sits beside the other elderly man.

Then a couple shows up. They look to be of Indian descent. What do they do? Yep. Try the knob. No, it doesn't open. Now there are 7 of us sitting there. A huge conversion van drives up. Out hops Ms. Sports Mom, wearing the expected ball cap, sports shirt, and toting along the predicted 3 children. She proceeds to put them in the back of the van and feed them. At least, I think, she didn't try the knob.

When I finally got into my appointment and returned to the car, my husband then proceeds to inform me Ms. Sports Mom breastfed her baby while sitting on said brick windowsill. Nice! "The doctor's office and a show," I'm calling that story.

Then today it happened again. I'm with my husband and daughter at a local Japanese steakhouse. You'd think we could eat one meal in peace, but no the whole affair turns into the most awkward meal I've ever had. We are first seated at a table full of big buff manly men wearing Sheriff's office shirts. No, that's not uncomfortable. Then one of them asks us to scoot down for his 2 companions. I quickly see there is no room for us now and ask to be moved. Already the meal is awkward.

We are moved to a new table when 2 people are placed opposite us. Now, I have to describe them because...well, just because. It's a man and a woman, probably in their late 50s, early 60s. She has stringy red hair, which the dye has come out from the roots, so in effect, she looks bald. He has long curly gray hair, unbrushed, a long goatee, and is wearing a black cap and a Bob Marley T-shirt. I think, these are not people who usually eat at Japanese steakhouses.
We try not to look at them and pretend we're still going to have a normal meal.

Then 2 more people are seated between us and them. These appear to be 2 businessmen of some sort. They look as if they might sell office equipment or something. (I'm completely speculating.) They order Sushi, so they are at our table but not eating the stir fry.

Here, the red head/bald lady latches on to the one to her side telling him people call her "Jaws" and please watch his sushi because she might eat it. I assume she knows them, though they didn't come together, but my husband later says no. Her companion - said goatee/Bob Marley guy then takes out a thing of orange Mio and squirts it in their waters. Odd, I think.

At this point, my daughter is now texting me under the table pointing out all this weirdness because this is what she and I do in situations like this.

The food comes and we are eating with forks like I assume most non-Asian Americans will do. Problem is, all the others - redhead/bald lady, BobMarley/goattee guy, and the 2 office salesmen are using chopsticks. So okay, this is a pet peeve of mine. I will admit it. I don't understand non-Asian people using chopsticks. But, I think, as I always do, that is their right.

Problem is, I begin to realize they are staring at us. No joke. Goatee guy keeps looking at me across the table. And businessman #1, arms folded across his chest, is reading my daughter's texts over her shoulder while glaring our direction. All of them chopsticking away.

It's exceedingly uncomfortable and awkward.

My daughter then begins to make a scene, on purpose. She is pouring sauce in her plate and trying to gross them out. It doesn't work. I am glaring back at them and deliberately stabbing my fork into my food as if to say, "Use a fork."

*Insert disclaimer against all those who would rather use chopsticks. I still don't get it unless you have lived in Japan.

I will call this story "Adventure at the Steakhouse."

I once made the statement, "Never argue with a writer." I stand by that statement. After all, life is made up of stories and sometimes they just deserve to be written.

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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 to email subscribers will be a recent release under my pen name, Josephine McCutcheon . This is a line of swee...