New beginnings

This has probably been one of the best weeks of my life. I booked the flight to London and Germany, and I booked the flight to Orlando to visit one of my best friends. This year I’ll definitely be crossing off quite a few things from my bucket list. Lastly I celebrated my 30th birthday with friends, family, and the best coworkers anyone could ask for.

As I reflect on my last 30 years, I see a lot of ups and downs. That’s the way life is, a pile of good things and a pile of bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant. I have truly been blessed to live the way I have these last 30 years.

Looking forward to the future, I can’t help but feel like a little kid staring up at the night sky full of wonder and amazement. I know there will be ups and downs, but the possibilities are endless. I am looking forward to seeing what is in store for me. Life is one big adventure story, and I’m going to do my best to make it a good one.

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Never Judge

‘Some people!’ snorted a man standing behind me in the long line at the grocery store.
‘You would think the manager would pay attention and open another line,’ said a woman. I looked to the front of the line to see what the hold up was and saw a well dressed, young woman, trying to get the machine to accept her credit card. No matter how many times
she swiped it, the machine kept rejecting it.

‘It’s one of them welfare card things. Damn people need to get a job like everyone else,’
said the man standing behind me. The young woman turned around to see who had
made the comment. ‘It was me,’ he said, pointing to himself The young lady’s face began to change expression. Almost in tears, she dropped the welfare card onto the counter and
quickly walked out of the store. Everyone in the checkout line watched as she began running to her car. Never looking back, she got in and drove away .

After developing cancer in 1977 and having had to use food stamps; I had learned never to judge anyone, without knowing the circumstances of their life. This turned out to be the case today. Several minutes later a young man walked into the store. He went up to the cashier and asked if she had seen the woman. After describing her, the cashier told him that she had run out of the store, got into her car, and drove away.

‘Why would she do that?’ asked the man. Everyone in the line looked around at the fellow who had made the statement. ‘I made a stupid comment about the welfare card she was
using. Something I shouldn’t have said I’m sorry,’ said the man. ‘Well, that’s bad, real bad, in fact. Her brother was killed in Afghanistan two years ago. He had three young children and she has taken on that responsibility. She’s twenty years old, single, and now has three children to support,’ he said in a very firm voice.

‘I’m really truly sorry. I didn’t know,’ he replied, shaking both his hands about. The young man asked, ‘Are these paid for?’ pointing to the shopping cart full of groceries. ‘It wouldn’t take her card,’ the clerk told him. ‘Do you know where she lives?’ asked the man who
had made the comment. ‘Yes, she goes to our church.’ ‘Excuse me,’ he said as he made his way to the front of the line. He pulled out his wallet, took out his credit card and told the cashier, ‘Please use my card. PLEASE!’ The clerk took his credit card and began to ring up the young woman’s groceries.

Hold on,’ said the gentleman. He walked back to his shopping cart and began loading his own groceries onto the belt to be included. ‘Come on people. We got three kids to help raise!’ he told everyone in line. Everyone began to place their groceries onto the fast moving belt. A few customers began bagging the food and placing it into separate carts. ‘Go back and get two big turkeys,’ yelled a heavyset woman, as she looked at the man. ‘NO,’ yelled the man.
Everyone stopped dead in their tracks. The entire store became quiet for several seconds. ‘Four turkeys,’ yelled the man. Everyone began laughing and went back to work. When all was said and done, the man paid a total of $1,646.57 for the groceries. He then walked over to the side, pulled out his check book, and began writing a check using the bags of dog food piled near the front of the store for a writing surface. He turned around and handed the check to the young man. ‘She will need a freezer and a few other things as well,’ he told the man.

The young man looked at the check and said, ‘This is really very generous of you.’ ‘No,’ said the man. ‘Her brother was the generous one.’ Everyone in the store had been observing the odd commotion and began to clap. And I drove home that day feeling very American.We live in the land of the free, because of the brave!!! Remember our troops of yesterday and today!!!

A great example of why we should be kind and patient. Kindness is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear. May God’s many blessings continue to be with you – ALWAYS!!!

Easter

One of my favorite times of year is Easter. I always remember getting dressed up in one of the dresses my Grandmother made for me, going to church and then driving to my Mamaw’s house for Easter dinner. The smell that filled the house was divine. I always looked forward to her applesauce and ham. Both Grandmothers have been gone for a few years now, but I still carry on the tradition of getting dressed up and cooking a big meal for Easter Dinner. This week I wanted to share a link to a video with the amazing performance artist, David Garibaldi. Enjoy!
David Garibaldi- Portrait of Christ

Life happens

Life happens and plans have to change. I should be writing this post from California but instead I’m writing it from the East Coast. I was looking forward to traveling but I had to cancel due to injuries received in a vehicle collision. Everything happens for a reason and I could have been stuck out on the West Coast and miss work. Canceling the trip to California was definitely a disappointment but I still have London to look forward to in August.

Blessings

Occasionally I will hear that quiet, still, small voice of God and I will get the urge to write. This is what I ended up writing last night:
I am blessed beyond measure. Sure I have a lot of bills that I have trouble paying and I have some health issues but there are still those who are less fortunate than I am. I have a roof over my head while there are those who have no roof over their heads. I have clothes on my back while there are those who have dirty and tattered scraps of cloth for their clothes. I have food on my table when there are those who haven’t eaten in days.
When I get a paycheck or some unexpected money comes in, I say that it was a blessing. Not for the material things that I may buy but for the work that money does when I give to ministries that feed the hungry and clothe the poor. Far too often, society looks down on these outcasts, the homeless. They are people just like you and me. They are people who have fallen on hard times and can’t seem to find a way out.
They are people who may have come home from a war, after seeing unimaginable things, only to find that things aren’t the way they thought it would be. They fight their own demons and sometimes just need someone who will listen. They are people who would rather have a hand up than a hand out. They are just as valuable and have just as much to offer the world as a CEO of a big corporation.
Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25: 35-36). We have to help each other out with a hand up and words of encouragement.
You never know who is an angel in disguise. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 40).

Love…

Sometimes we feel this stirring inside of us. We can’t explain it. We can’t say why we feel it. It’s an overwhelming sense of the Holy Spirit guiding us, urging us to pray for others and to build them up in Christ. The tongue is sharper than any two edged sword. All too often we speak behind other people’s backs, spread viscous gossip and unkind words. Our words have the power to destroy lives, destroy reputations and destroy spirits. Why is it that in society we seek to put others down, to make them feel less than what they are. We are all special and beautiful. God loved us before we were conceived. He knitted us together in our Mother’s wombs. He knows every detail about us, from the numbers of the hairs on our heads to our hearts desires. He wants us to be close to Him and to walk daily in fellowship with Him. So when we speak ill of others, we speak ill of God. Instead of using our words to destroy, we should use them to create. Speak words of love, kindness, compassion, healing, understanding. We should use our words to encourage others and to help give them the courage to go on. So many are fighting silent battles that they may express it in outwardly in a destructive manner. To those people, we need to let the light of God shine through us so they can step out of the darkness. We need to be that living example of Christ’s love. That selfless, unconditional love. We all struggle be it with depression, addiction, anger or self doubt. The point is we all struggle, but we can hold fast to the knowledge that God is always with us. Even during the darkest of times, He is always there with his firm guiding hand of love.

A.S.K

Ask
Seek
Knock

When we come to God with our fears, our doubts and our hearts desires; we are Asking Him to take care of everything and prepare a bountiful table before us.

Also when we Ask God to provide for us, we are Seeking his wisdom, comfort and peace.

By Asking and Seeking, we are simply Knocking on the door to the Lord’s heart. If scripture teaches us anything, it is that the door to His heart that is always open with unconditional love. The proof lies in the fact that He sent His only son to be born upon this earth and to suffer and die for our sins that we may have everlasting life. More often than not, it is God who is Knocking on the door to our hearts because He wants to be in fellowship with us.

So when it comes to God, remember the door is always open and he is there waiting with arms outstretched in perfect love.

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Guest post: Infrared photography in Yellowstone National Park

I chose to reblog this because of the amazing, museum quality pictures. I used to go to Yellowstone every summer when I was a child. The blog post by Simon Weir is fantastic.

The Fujifilm Blog

By Simon Weir

Yellowstone_SW_XEIR1209-Edit

I started 2014 leading a workshop in Yellowstone National Park for Chris Weston‘s safari company “Magic Is” – I am now working regularly with them as a group leader and instructor.

Yellowstone in winter turned out to be an IR photographers paradise and my IR modified X-E1 with the 14mm did great service as the images below show. This camera blows me away every time I use it and there was a great deal of interest from the 12 photographers in the group – so much so that I ended up doing a full presentation on Infrared photography one evening while we were there.  My X-Pro1 and the XF55-200 also did good service as shown in the two bison shots at the bottom of this post.

Also pleased to report that both Fuji cameras worked faultlessly down to temperatures as low as -30C –…

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