Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hearing Good Words


Listen carefully to what you hear! (Mar 4:24 CEV)

Many church people are like sponges. Sit them in a church service and they soak up whatever they hear, then leave with their conscience assuaged for the week. They attended, and now they can mark that off their list.


But there's a problem with simply sponging up everything spilt from the pulpit. Sometimes, people are wrong.

Now, before you throw food at me, look at the Word of God. Mark 4:24 plainly says, "Take heed what you hear!" 

What we hear is what builds our faith. (Heb 1:1) It's what lives in our heart and comes out of our mouths. (Pr 23:7;Jas 3:11) Therefore, every word we hear holds an incredible value. 

God's Word enables us to grow. We see this in Hebrews 5:12-14. Here the church is told to mature, to move from simply partaking of milk to eating solid spiritual food. 

Notice the phrasing of verse 14 in the BBE.


But solid food is for men of full growth, even for those whose senses are trained by use to see what is good and what is evil. (Heb 5:14 BBE)

Trained by use. That means we've learned to determine if what we've heard is something we should hang onto or toss away. 

No human being, regardless of their spiritual office, how many books or audio messages they've sold, how big their email list is, or if they have a multimillion dollar building to preach in is right one hundred percent of the time. And it's our job as followers of Christ to know the when they are and when they aren't. 

We must compare every word we hear to the truth of the Scripture and stop simply sitting in the pew without thought to what is spoken.

"But what if I carry it too far?"

Jesus answered this question. He said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (Jn 10:27) 

Just as you learn the likes and dislikes of your spouse, your children, or your best friend, through time spent in prayer, worship, and study, you will learn to recognize the Spirit's voice. (Jn 16:13)

So stop being a sponge. Sponges soak up whatever they come in contact with, and that's not always pleasant things. Instead, hear the words of the Spirit, consume the good grain, and spit out the chaff. You'll be a more mature, grown-up Christian.

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Suzanne D. Williams
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Photographs

This week's 365 Project photographs. Enjoy! To see the entire set, visit my Photobucket album.


Day 20, Carolina Jasmine
Day 20, 1-20-2013, Carolina Jasmine
 
Day 21 Eastern Bluebird
Day 21, 1-21-2013, Eastern Bluebird

Day 22 Carolina Jasmine
Day 22, 1-22-2013, Carolina Jasmine

Day 23 Northern Mockingbird
Day 23, 1-23-2013, Mockingbird

Day 24 Unknown Grass Seeds
Day 24, 1-24-2013, Unknown grass seeds

Day 25 Palm Warbler
Day 25, 1-25-2013, Palm Warbler

Day 26, Red-Shouldered Hawk in Flight
Day 26, 1-26-2013 Red-shouldered Hawk in Flight

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Suzanne D. Williams
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Story Saturdays: Michael's Love Song


First, don't forget to purchase your copy of my ebook sale items. Me & Timothy Cooper is only 99 cents until February 15th. MISSING and FOUND are both now $2.99 each.

Today's excerpt comes from my next book release on March 1st, Love & Redemption, the first book in my Florida Irish series. In this scene, Michael O'Fallen is singing a love song to his wife and reveals he has a mind-blowing talent.

I did a lot of research to find a song that fit into that time period and pre-dated the story (1870). This one was written by Thomas Moore, a prolific English writer. It is a hauntingly beautiful song; my favorite version of which is sung by Celtic Woman at the video below.

EXCERPT:

Anne studied the top of Michael’s head, noting the way his hair curled over his collar, the tint of red which emerged when the sun struck it, and wished she could take the words back. He was the most handsome man, but then her memories of him had already told her that.
To see him deflated like this was too much. She’d hurt him. But she’d only told the truth. How could she love him when she didn’t know him at all? It seemed simple in her thinking. Yet the raw emotion on his face when he’d declared his love for her spoke differently.
Bess said he’d wept over her, and now she believed it. She cleared her throat. “Michael.”
At the sound of his name, he flicked his gaze to her face.
“I want to know the rest.”
But uncertainty sat heavy on his features, and she knew. If their wedding was bad, the rest must be worse.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
No. She wasn’t sure. But any key to whom she was seemed important. Their lovemaking was mutual, he’d said. So she’d given herself to him on purpose. Had she loved him then? Her hand crept down to her belly. What of the rest of her memories?
“I’m sure,” she said. “I remember a man, older. He kissed me, and it was … horrible. He … did other things. Who was that?”
He clenched his fists and worked his jaw. So he knows who it was, and he didn’t like him.
“Ferguson,” he replied. “He’s dead.”
Was he reassuring her or himself with that statement?
“Did he … do something to me?”
And again, he met her with silence. He hasn’t worked through this either.
He blew out his breath. “I … No, he didn’t.”
She cocked her head. He’d changed his thought mid-stream. What did that mean? “The baby,” she began. “It’s yours?”
His face colored red. “Yes.”
But he didn’t sound convinced. Why? Did he hide something from her? Did it matter? If he said the baby was his, then surely it was.
She wrinkled her brow. Being married made the baby legitimate. People wouldn’t talk. Wasn’t that better than how she’d felt before, being alone? But marriage, absent of her feelings for him, seemed wrong.
You don’t have to go through this alone, Bess had said. He will be a good father. Don’t you want that?
Didn’t she?
“Close your eyes,” he said.
She absented her thoughts and focused on his face. “Close my eyes? Why?”
He smiled, and two dimples appeared in his cheeks. She resisted the urge to touch them.
“Just do it,” he replied.
She shut her eyes and her insides raced as his voice with an Irish lilt lifted, clear and sweet, in song.

“'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?”

His voice stilled and for a moment she lay there, simply breathing in the magic. When she at last opened her eyes, startled, she pushed herself up onto her elbows because the room sat empty. He was gone.
“Michael?” she whispered. But no one responded, and a strange hole opened in her heart.
 





Check out more about the story and read the Prologue on my blog.

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Suzanne D. Williams 
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, January 23, 2013

Working From The Center

My husband and I used to do a lot of fishing. I was never particularly good at it, and frankly, was more interested in seeing the outdoors than catching fish. But one of the worst things to happen was having a fish on the line and suddenly your fishing line is tangled.

There you stood, reel in hand, but you couldn't pull the fish in for the knot that was in the way, and untangling the knot was often nigh to impossible. In fact, if the tangle was bad enough, you'd have to respool, which could never be done on the spot, so your day was done.

You've probably seen a spool of thread being wound on a machine. The thread moves from right to left or left to right so that the thread stays in balance. Out of balance and things will not work correctly. There's too much thread on one side or the other.

The Lord gave me this example for my own life. He used the phrase, "Recenter yourself." I've been thinking on that a lot since. There's always the usual examples of making Christ the center of your life. But I think many of those have left us jaded. We hear them, but don't apply them.

Our firm decision is to work from this focused center. (2Co 5:14 MSG)

So instead, I've seen His command more like that spool of thread. I have to keep all the things in my life in balance. What's on the left needs to be the same as what's on the right. Too much of one or the other, and I become out of whack. And if I'm out of whack in one area, I'll find myself out of whack in others. 

But staying centered is harder to do than you might think because it most often has to be done when life is at its worst. In that moment when you simply want to cry, not pray. Right after someone yells at you and you want to throw something at them. But God is helping me do it by repeating that phrase over and over and over again in my heart.

Recenter yourself, Suzanne.


Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Php 4:6-7 MSG)

And this is the voice of the Spirit in the Scriptures. The Message Bible says Christ "displaces worry at the center of your life." I love that word because it's all about staying centered. Water is displaced in a glass when you add ice cubes. Add too many and the water overflows, though by itself the water doesn't fill the glass at all.

So what am I saying? I'm saying work from the center out. Instead of reeling in your line to one side, make sure you take the time to find balance. And above all, give God the reins. Because the best way to get out of balance is to drive the truck by yourself. 

Trust me, He's a much safer driver.


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Suzanne D. Williams  
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, January 20, 2013

Sunday Photographs & Steve's Digicams

My January article entitled, "Dust On My Lens" is now up at Steve's Digicams. Enjoy!


Also, here are last week's photographs. And welcome to any newbies to the blog. Glad to have you here.

Day 13, Bee on Blanket Flower
Day 13, 1-13-2013, Bee on Blanket Flower

Day 14, Toadflax
Day 14, 1-14-2013, Toadflax

Day 15, Swallows in Flight
Day 15, 1-15-2013, Swallows in Flight

Day 16, Clouds
Day 16, 1-16-2013, Clouds

Day 17, Brown Anole
Day 17, 1-17-2013, Brown Anole

Day 18, Cabbage
Day 18, 1-18-2013, Cabbage


Day 19, Knock-out Rose
Day 19, 1-19-2013, Knock-out Rose



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Suzanne D. Williams
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, January 19, 2013

Story Saturdays: Flight Risk

First, be sure to check out my article over on the GNFA blog this week. I talk about why I wrote Me & Timothy Cooper.


And don't forget my ebook sale items. Me & Timothy Cooper is only 99 cents until February 15th. MISSING and FOUND are both now $2.99 each.
 
This Saturday's excerpt comes from an as yet unfinished story entitled, Flight Risk. I only titled it a couple hours before writing this blog, and that was at 35,000 words in. Before that moment, it was jokingly called, "Up, Up, and Oh, Crap!"

The thought behind writing the story was literally a personal dare. I said to a friend, "I want to write a story with the craziest idea for a man to meet a woman," and so came about the idea of a man flying a hot air balloon for a woman who he can't stand. The "Oh, Crap" part comes in when the balloon crashes and they meet up with a group of anti-government activists.

It will be released as an ebook sometime this year, probably over the summer. Trust me on this one. You'll love it.

In this scene, Giovanni Cavatelli, the pilot of the hot air balloon, is arguing with his feisty passenger, Sergeant Hayes


EXCERPT:



The ill-fitting pink t-shirt didn’t seem quite so awful next to the irate female in the parking lot. That she was irate was obvious more from her body language than her speech because actually, she wasn’t saying much. She glared at her cell phone, and what was probably an attractive face at any other time turned crimson red and splotchy.
Giovanni had the distinct feeling she would have strangulated whoever was on the other end, if she could.
“Happy freakin’ birthday to me,” she said, slinging her cell through the open window of her car.
She looked up then and her gaze traveled up his frame, pausing on the horrible shirt, and freezing finally on his face.
Must be how girls feel to be ogled.
She stepped forward, a hand on her hip. “I’m here about the balloon flight. I take it you work here?”
Giovanni reclined against the tailgate of his truck. “You could say that.”
“Well, I paid for a flight for two, but it looks like it’ll just be one. Care to tell me where I check in?”
The left-hand corner of Gio’s mouth curved upward. “You just did.”
She gave a snort. “You?”
A slow boil started in his gut. He didn’t want to make this flight, hadn’t asked to make this flight, and would rather not make this flight. And he was expected to make it with a grouchy woman? This day just got better and better.
“Me.” He fixed a scowl on his face. “That a problem?” Because he would just as soon cancel it, though he’d have to pay the crew for their time inflating the balloon.
She took an obvious breath and released it slowly. “Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have talked to you that way. But …”
“Some guy stood you up,” he said.
She sagged in the shoulders. “That obvious?”
“I’ve seen angry females before.”
This made her smile, and he took a second look at her. She was average height for a female, five-foot-seven or eight. Trim hips led to a slender waist that fully accented a pair of rounded breasts that she’d tried, in vain, to hide. She ran her left hand over her ponytail, and the morning sun glinted golden highlights in honey-gold hair.
Not his type. Especially with those arms. Even with her casual stance, he could see she was in tip-top shape.
“I hope it’s not a problem, me being the only passenger,” she said.
He straightened and motioned toward the balloon. “So long as the bill gets paid, nobody cares.”
She spun around in place. “I’ll pay. This matters too much.”
And he roved his eyes over her backside. Calf-length khaki pants sat low on her hips. “Too bad your Army friend left you with the bill … it being your birthday,” he said.
Not his type but not bad to look at.
Her head turned and a strange expression sat on her face. “Army?”
He hesitated. Did he stutter? “Yeah, the name the balloon was rented under – Sergeant Hayes.”
She swiveled the rest of her to face him, her lips pulled back in a grin. “Ha. I get that a lot. Dear old dad, you understand.”
He shook his idea. Now, he was the one confused. He ran a hand through his hair. “I’m afraid you’ve lost me.”
“My name. Dad thought it’d make me stronger. Instead, I’ve fought with it my entire life.” She extended her hand. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Sergeant Hayes.”

***

By his facial expression, he was completely flummoxed by her announcement. By his appearance – six-foot or so in height with an amazing head of dark hair – he was also incredibly cute. But somehow, his mannerism detracted from it.
Cocky and self-assured, it was evident flying this balloon was the last thing he wanted to be doing. On the other hand, he was wearing an obnoxiously-pink t-shirt with the logo of the company emblazoned on it, and it took quite a guy to put that on.
“Sergeant? That’s your name?” he asked, his voice sharp.
She nodded. “First name. Last name is Hayes.”
“So you’re not in the Army?”
She laughed softly. “Nope. Considered it, but thought Sergeant Sergeant sounded silly.” Her humor seemed to have no effect. “I’ll pay the bill,” she added.
But evidently that wasn’t the problem because he directed his gaze to the balloon. “Why do you want to see the mountain?”
The mountain? Why did he care? He was paid to do a job, so he ought to do the job. That was the way she worked. Why was this any different? She lowered her hand.
“Sentimental,” she said. “Mr. Cavatelli said …”
“Mr. Cavatelli is my uncle, and he was under the impression this was important.”
His words stung, and lashed by them, she ground her teeth together.
“This is important,” she said, stressing the word “is”. “And I have money, and this is my birthday, and I’ve been stood up once today, so if you don’t mind … Pasta Boy.” She tossed the last remark onto the end.
His eyes turned darker, and curling his left hand into a fist, he stepped in her face. The heat from his skin licked up her neck and across her cheeks. “Name’s Giovanni,” he said, “Gio, if that’s too hard for you to say. Have heard all the references to my name and pasta my entire life, so pardon me if it ceases to be funny. Why don’t we get this trip going, so I can move on to the more productive portion of my day?”
More productive. He really didn’t want to be here. This day improved every minute.
She inhaled the spicy scent of male cologne. “Why don’t we?” she said. “I wouldn’t want to waste your time too long on something as trivial as my birthday or poor childhood memories.”
He motioned again toward the balloon. “Then ladies first.”
  
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Suzanne D. Williams
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, January 13, 2013

Sunday Photographs

Here are this week's photos from the 365 Project.

Day 7, Greater Egret
Day 7, 1-7-2013 Greater Egret, Photo cropped, converted to b&w and lightened

Day 8, Gray Squirrel
Day 8, 1/8/2013, Gray Squirrel

Day 9, Lorepetalum
Day 9, 1-9-2013, Loropetalum

Day 10, Bald Eagle
Day 10, 1-10-2013, Bald Eagle

Day 11, Preying Mantis
Day 11, 1-11-2013, Preying Mantis

Day 12, Morning Dew
Day 12, 1-12-2013, Morning Dew

To visit the entire album, go to: http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v31/scw1217/365%20Project%20-%202013/.



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Suzanne D. Williams
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, January 9, 2013

Steve's Digicams - Photography Most Fowl

December's article is up. In fact, it may have been up, and I simply couldn't find it. In any case, a day late and a dollar short, check out the "how to" on photographing ducks. Or at least visit to see the fine work of my good photography friend, Pete Moulton, who taught me a duck is a beautiful thing.


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Suzanne D. Williams
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.