Winter Surprises

23 01 2016

Sharing the beauty of winter:

Enjoy a shovel-free view of winter from pictures I took and assembled in the “Winter Surprises” video I created:

https://youtu.be/bownpnIV7hE

On a serious note:

Winter Storm Jonas is affecting millions of people. The impact of the storm has taken some by surprise. It’s worse than predicted in certain areas. Please pray for people living near the New Jersey shore. Flooding already seems to be worse than Hurricane Sandy.

When such disasters strike, some wonder Where’s God? I don’t presume to have all the answers, but I would like to share something with you. Today a devotional I wrote was posted on Rest Ministries. Below is an excerpt of that message titled, “Discovering Winter Surprises Despite the Cold.”



I gotta admit; I dread winter. Cleaning snow off our cars exhausts me. One winter, the snowstorms were relentless. I barely had time to recover before another storm hit.

 One storm dumped a foot of snow. It took longer to remove.  I stopped to catch my breath and spotted a scene that took my breath away. The sun glistened off mounds of snow. Mounds that appeared to be topped with whipped cream by God’s own hand.

 That winter surprise propelled me to finish quickly. I jumped in my cleared-off car and set out to do a photo shoot. Some scenes grabbed my attention. Others were discovered by seeking them out. God’s beauty was found when I looked up, focused closer, and studied shadows.   

 We can face the winter seasons in life that way. Isaiah tells us to, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

 Seek God: look up, focus closer, study shadows. He is near.

 

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Enough is enough!!!

7 02 2014

StressedOUT message

What are most people saying this winter? Enough!!! Count me in that chorus. We just had another storm here in the Northeast. A whopper. Heavy, wet snow weighed down branches. Countless trees toppled, taking down wires as they fell. Leading to massive outages.

During literal storms or the storms of life we know how to pray. We ask for protection, provision, and peace. The recent storm revealed to me additional types of prayers—those we may not consider praying during a trial. In the midst of a trial we may not offer prayers:

  • Of thanks: We were grateful we didn’t lose power. No matter how bad the storm, there’s always reason to be grateful.
  • For others: The ice storm left over half a million customers in Pennsylvania without power. Thousands of linemen in our area worked to restore power. Wires, coated with ice, presented a risk. Water and electricity created a deadly combination. Those men and women risked their lives to reconnect wires. When turbulence sweeps through our lives, we’re consumed with our needs. Praying for others helps us realize we’re not alone in suffering.
  • Of praise for His sovereignty: His ways are not like ours. Storms He allows into our lives have a way of stopping us in our tracks. Only then do we notice things around us. With the rush of life halted, our eyes are opened to the beauty of God’s creation. The storms of life cause us reorganize priorities. We suddenly realize who and what’s important.
  • Of praise for spiritual growth: Our evergreens, bent under the weight of snow, revealed a picture of burdens. Drooping limbs resembled depressed individuals with despair and discouragement. When the weight was brushed away, the branches floated heavenward. Just like our praises, once we cast off our worries. Similarly, God uses the storms of life to teach us spiritual lessons. If He allows it, He’ll use it for His glory.
  • Of adoration: Everything was shut down. Roads were impassable. There was more time to read the Bible. More time to worship Him in prayer.

Enjoy this slideshow I created using photographs taken after the storm.

What a winter!!!

http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4d7a6b324e7a67324e5442384d5467334e7a55774e44413d0d0a&sb=1





Burden Lifted

5 02 2014

Vickis.trees

Can God be found in misery? Sometimes burdens pound us so low we’re too depressed to seek Him. Thankfully, He finds us. When we’re too low to look up, He reaches down. He’ll remind us of His care. Just like what He did for me today.

Countless people are suffering due to the recent storm in the northeast. About half a million people are without electricity in my area. Thanks to the snow-ice-rain storm that struck last night.  Ice-covered roads, littered with downed live wires, have imprisoned residents in their homes.

I surveyed our trees and found only one down. Then I spotted our cluster of Leyland Cypress evergreens. They drooped under the weight of snow.

“Don’t worry; I’ll help you,” I told them. The load of snow on each branch threatened to distort their shapes.

I swatted snow off the first limb. It lifted slowly upward as if to say, “Thank you. That feels much better.”

The second branch responded similarly. Displaying its graceful relief.  The two released branches looked like a picture of praise to God.

Thank You, God, for this symbol of burdens. How I rejoice like this tree when I surrender my worries to You.

My mission continued. One branch didn’t raise its limb when struck. I peered closer to the trunk and investigated.

“What’s holding you down? Oh I see. Your neighbor is weighing you down.”

I understand, Lord. Others can pull me down. People who complain about their aliments entice me to admire my own aches. Tempting me to complain about my multiple sclerosis. I’m grateful for godly friends who, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)”

I aimed my snow scraper brush at the adjacent branch and smacked it. Both boughs floated heavenward.

Branches close to the ground were buried in snow.

Now, Lord You’re showing me how my cares can bury me. They beat me down so low I no longer focus on You. Like days I’m tempted to encase myself in blankets and remain in bed for the day. Without trusting You to help me serve others.

The whacks each branch received restored new life.

Thank You, Jesus, for bearing my burden on the cross. And for easing my daily burdens. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19)”

I finished the job; grateful God provided the strength and the lesson.

Ask God to reveal His presence to you today. Then watch and listen!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)”

Dear Father, Help me throw off everything that hinders my walk with you. Remind me of Your invitation to, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)”    In Jesus’ name, Amen

Has God surprised you with His presence? Did He speak to you during the busyness of your day?





Colorful Leaves Made Simple

7 10 2012

Young toddlers barrage us with their favorite question, “Why?”

Rebellious teens debate us with their challenging word, “Why?”

No wonder we cringe when we hear it.

When released from the mouth of an inquiring young mind, it’s a word to be celebrated. The child hasn’t ceased from wondering.

Robert Fulghum wrote the bestselling book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In it, he included this important piece of advice: Be aware of wonder.

It’s a challenge to us when life is so busy. There’s too much to do to stop and wonder…must go shopping, must get to sports, must make dinner, must get homework done…

I loved when my second graders inquired, “Why do leaves change color?”

Answering that simple question challenged me to explain it in the simplest terms.

Here’s what I taught them. We practiced saying it over and over so they could tell their parents.

Warm sun + less light + cooler temperatures = no more chlorophyll

No more chlorophyll – no more green color = hidden colors (there all the time)  

                                               

Click on the link below to see a 51-slide PowerPoint slide show I created using the advice from Robert Fulghum’s book. The Bible verses were added by me (not included in Fulghum’s book).

Learned All in Kindergarten with verses