April Photo Challenge: Vibrant

photo blog challenge

April is usually very vibrant month in middle Missouri with all the spring blooms. So, this month was a fairy easy challenge. Life continues to fly by at warp speed and it seems I’m living hand to mouth in my attempt to keep up. Honestly, I have no idea how I juggled everything way back in my twenties. After all, we have sooooo many time-saving devices now-a-days.:-) Oh well, I digress.

So here’s my Vibrant Five.

#1 Vibrant
Leading off is a shot of my creeping phlox along the front walk. The ones that survived last June’s deluge of rain and July heat were especially gorgeous this year.
pink phlox

#2 Vibrant
Spring always rewards us after winter with the bluest blues and the greenest greens. I really love the saturation of color in the sky and grass in this shot. Papa and Peanut love to fly kites….especially ones they get at the dollar store. This one is going on a year without flying into a kite-eating tree.
kite flying

#3 Vibrant
In a ever-increasing, concrete world, Mom Nature simply won’t be beaten. She will always find a way to provide a bit of color despite efforts to the contrary. As Peanut and I walked up the road to the bus stop, we were greeted by a few, stubborn sprigs of greenery who refused to believe they couldn’t grow in asphalt. If sure there is a life lesson here, somewhere.
grass in road

#4 Vibrant
Who needs flowering trees when you have Peanut willing to provide a bit of vibrant, tree-top color. This is her favorite climbing tree…a white pine her godmother, The Golfer, received when she was in fourth grade from her teacher.
peanut in pine tree

#5 Vibrant
Entrepreneur and I took a road trip to see The Golfer in Florida. In addition to a new puppy (to be featured in a later post), she had a gorgeous, blue orchid on her table. I’d never seen a blue orchid before, and the color was so intense.
blue orchid

There’s my five for April. Please take time to visit PJ over at A ‘lil HooHaa to enjoy vibrant April photos from everyone else. Better yet, why not play along with us?

That kind of woman

As if fashion magazines weren’t detrimental enough.

It’s common knowledge we, as women, feel more inadequate after viewing “women’s magazines” that are supposed to be targeted to us. Ridiculously thin, gorgeous models and unrealistic beauty expectations can make even the most confident woman shudder with self-doubt.

But if you really want to feel inadequate, read Proverbs 31. This is Super Woman, personified. And I wonder just exactly who was the inspiration for such praise? Because she doesn’t sound like anyone I know. And certainly not me.

Before we collectively throw up our hands in despair, know this….. the Proverbs 31 woman does not literally exist.

Nope. Never has, never will. Sure, there are those who may have come close, but they are few and far between. The majority of us will never evolve into this dream woman.

And that’s okay.

It’s speculated that King Lemuel may be King Solomon, which makes the person giving advice none other than Queen Mother, Bathsheba, wife of King David. A woman who knows a thing or two about what sort of wife a king might need by his side.

It’s also speculated the Proverbs 31 woman is most likely a combination of many women. She is the personification of years of wisdom…not a literal checklist to determine a woman’s worth. Of course, we should aspire to the virtues in this passage, but reality is such that most of us will never be able to live up to all these expectations.

So stop obsessing. This is not the gold standard for women. Stop and think about the women who are considered role models in Scripture. They may surprise you.

Eve: a woman who can’t follow directions.
Sarah: a barren woman who conspires with her servant, Hagar, to give Abraham a child. Then she turns on Hagar in resentment and bitterness, and has both her and her son exiled.
Rahab: a prostitute.
Ruth: a pagen daughter-in-law and despised foreigner.
Naomi: a woman who is without husband or sons.
Esther: a woman who manipulates events to sway the odds in her favor.
Bathsheba: a woman who succumbs to adultery with King David; and after her husband is murdered, she is made queen. Years later she plots against David to make sure her son, Solomon, inherits the throne over his older brother.
Mary, mother of Jesus: an unwed, pregnant teenager.
The woman at the well: a Samaritan woman who’s had five husbands and currently living with a sixth man. She is despised in both religious and secular circles.

Not a Proverbs 31 woman (in the literal sense) in the bunch. In fact, some ‘virtues’ are seriously lacking. What is important is God used each of these women to fulfill a larger, divine plan. He used their strengths and weaknesses and equipped them to be women he wanted at that given point in time.

I read Proverbs 31:10-31 and can’t help but feel I don’t measure up. When that happens, I have to remind myself that even though I’m seriously flawed, in Christ, I’m accepted, free from condemnation and can never be separated from God.

I’m a work in progress….just like all the other women listed above. But, the one thing that ties us all together can be found at Proverbs 31:30.

Proverbs 31

Playing along with those at Life Through the Lens

I blinked and March was gone

March 2016
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.
~Mark Twain

I have no idea how this  happened. One day it was mid-March and the next day it is mid-April. March seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye. In short, March was a blur. Spring began and I think I missed it.

I remember thrilling at the sight of daffodil blooms. I remember dreary, wet days of rain. Mom Nature teased with days in the 60F and when we got used to that, she plummeted the temps to a high of 40F.

I vaguely remember frantically trying to tie up loose ends with my class and work before spring break. Since The Recruiter wasn’t able to get off work for a week, Entrepreneur and I volunteered to drive the grand girls to Alabama to see their dad, hang around the area for a week and then bring them back home. This was Twix’s first time away from her familiar routine and surroundings and we weren’t sure how she would fare.

Re-entry after break was rough. Both girls came home sick, which was evidently passed to me during the 13-hour car ride back to middle Missouri. Sunday began one of the worst sore throats I can remember….prompting me to [gasp] go to the doctor a few days later. Twix is still fighting a cold, and thankfully it has not turned into anything worse. Behaviors in the 8-and-under crowd have been as volatile as the weather, which has not been conducive to making this Nana Nanny feel better.

The garden sits unattended with a partial fence built to keep out the critters. The spring booms are admired from afar as I don’t have the desire to fight the 20mph wind to go outside. And I honestly don’t know where the hours go in the day. Oh…wait…there’s a two year old in the house… who just announced she took the batteries out of the television remote. Ahhh…..now, I remember.

So, now it’s April?

Playing along with Quotography and Life Through the Lens

Photo Challenge: Three

march2016

PJ’s challenge this month is Three…to commemorate three years of people sharing photos with each other in this bloggy community. This was harder than I thought it would be and really made me think….which, many times, really hurts.

turns-3-500x284

So, here’s what I came up with to celebrate The Photo Blogging Challenge turning THREE!.

Three #1: Three-leaf clovers
Even though March should be the month of four-leaf clovers and shamrocks, there’s not a lot of those in my yard. But….hallelujah…I have tons of three-leafed ones! What? They aren’t good luck? No matter. I don’t believe in luck or coincidence anyway.3-leaf clover

Three #2: Three Easter eggs
Since Easter falls in March this year, here are three eggs I have in my Easter stash of decorations. They have a crackle finish and I’ve always thought they looked exceptionally pretty.eggs

Three #3: Three peas in a pod
Papa and his grand girls spending some quality, bonding time picking up fallen sticks and tree limbs in the yard. Oh, yeah, he offered to pay Peanut for her help. Twix thinks being outside with them is reward enough.Papa with kids

Three #4: Tropical Triptych
This is a wrapped canvas triptych of a Cancun beach from one of our family vacays. The great thing about this photo is it’s one Peanut took with my camera!tryptich

Three #5: Three Puppers
I was at a loss for the fifth shot so I cheated. Oh yes, I did. However, I did take all three….just not this month. Anyway, this digital triptych is of the three, awesome puppers I had the honor of raising and loving over the course of my 35 married years. Bandit was a full-size Collie, Sundance and Tanner were both Golden Retrievers. They are now waiting together at the Rainbow Bridge.
three dogs 72

There’s my five “threes” to celebrate PJ’s three years hosting this fantastic challenge. Don’t forget to swing by his place on March 31st to check out the triple fun others had this month.

LTTL & Song-ography

daff and drops 72Texture by Kim Klassen; Lily, 80% screen with selective masking

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise.
~Laura Story, Blessings

Rain. Storms. Tears. Perhaps the hardest part of being a Christian is the resignation that we will have storms in our lives. We will have tears. We will have trials and hardships…sometimes unbearable hardships. Being a Christian doesn’t give us a fee pass from experiencing any the hard stuff in life. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we’ll magically live a charmed life. In fact, many times, it’s exactly the opposite.

This is a hard concept to explain to a non-believer. Why is there pain and suffering? Why are there trials, disasters and disappointments? Why would we look at these things in our lives as blessings and mercies in disguise?

Well, isn’t that a good question.

By human nature, we don’t appreciate pain and suffering. So, why are Christians so tolerant of God, who may not grant their wishes answer their prayers with desired results? Wouldn’t it make sense that God would want his children to be happy? Wouldn’t he want us to live a comfortable life, free from stress, trials, despair, fear and disappointment?

Not all the time.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
~Romans 8:28

Well, that sounds a bit trite, doesn’t it? It sounds like a great way to excuse God from ensuring “his children” are safe and happy. After all, isn’t he a Cosmic Vending Machine…a Divine Sugar Daddy…that’s there to grant our whims and wishes, and give us what we want if we agree to stick with him?

It’s a hard mindset to adopt…this suffering-for-no-apparent-good-reason thing. In reality, this is why many people walk away from Christianity. We seem to think this is a negotiable “you do [this] for me and I’ll do [this] for you” type of arrangement. Mutual benefit….but only on our terms.

Newsflash: we need to get over ourselves and see what is actually happening. After all, if you’re a parent, how many times do we say ‘no’ to our children when they whine about what they want? How many times do we let them struggle with a project or learning a new skill? Parenting is hard…it’s difficult to mold our children into responsible adults. If we step in and make their lives easy all the time, what does that teach them?

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
~James 1:2-4,12

Trials, persecution, suffering, despair, disaster, challenges, failures….they all work to build character. When facing the challenges of life, the Christian realizes these things cannot be overcome without help….and that strength comes from a humble heart and the reliance on a sovereign God that knows what we need, and when we need it. Although, during those time, it usually bothers the control freak in all of us that we’re not privy to the bigger plan. We like being masters of our own destiny…just like our children.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~2 Corinthians 12:9-11

Paul said it so well. All to often our prayers sound like this: “Puleeeeeze God…take this (fill in the blank) away from me.” When, in fact, it would be better to pray: “Help me through this, Lord, and show me what I’m suppose to learn from it.” Big difference.

While on this earth as a man, Jesus asked God the Father to take away what was about to happen to him. Jesus, the divine, accepted the persecution, suffering and, ultimately, death knowing his suffering was fulfilling a larger, more beneficial plan for redemption and salvation. And because Jesus experienced suffering, fear, disappointment, pain and despair while as a man, He uniquely understands when we experienced the same. Christians draw closer to Jesus during those times in our lives because we know He understands and will not abandon us. We may not like His methods, but we trust in His mercy and grace to make us stronger and shape us into a better being.

Linking up with those who share
at Songography and Life Through the Lens.