Photo Blogging Challenge: Express Yourself!

photo blog challenge

The first month of 2017 is almost on the books, and here we are again with PJ’s monthly photo challenge. This month’s theme is Express Yourself. And, I must say it was more than a head-scratcher for me.

In the end, I opted to combine two of my loves to express a little of who I am and some of the mindsets that have made me who I am today. Those two components are photography and quotations. No extra commentary will probably be necessary for this month’s five. All the photos except the first one are from a trip Entrepreneur and I took earlier this month to Meridia Beach, Florida. The amaryllis was a December gift and was suppose to bloom for Christmas. Obviously, it knew my muse would need it for January!

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express-yourself-2-blogBTW, that “star” by the crescent moon is Venus.

express-yourself-3-blog

express-yourself-4-blog

express-yourself-5-blog

Be sure to visit PJ’s A ‘lil Hoohaa on January 31st and see what others expressed this month.

 

The value of a moment

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Sometimes you don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
~Dr. Seuss

Wow. Talk about a huge FAIL. Carol challenged me to a 3 Quote Challenge back in November. I got one in on Nov. 22 and then………oops. So, here is my second quote post. In my defense, I did mention I probably wouldn’t post consecutive days. 🙂

These two shots capture why I drive everyone insane taking photos. Entrepreneur rolls his eyes and others drag their feet when I mention “family photo time.” But let them gripe and complain. I think it’s important to capture as much as possible as often as possible. Most of those complaining are under the age of 35, so they haven’t hit that time in their life when looking back is just as important as looking ahead.

Precious memories. That’s what looking back provides. And that’s all they are now….memories. So often, we’re so caught up in life’s stresses and interruptions that we fail to really take in those fleeting moments. Photos capture those times when we, perhaps, were too busy to notice or care.

It’s only when your children are grown and gone that photos from their childhood take on a newfound importance.

It’s only when your spouse is no longer with you that those photos become cherished memories of a life together.

It’s only when you’ve had to say goodbye to those that now wait at the Rainbow Bridge that you realize how special those muddy paws were on your clean floor.

No, we rarely realize the value of a moment until it’s past and all that remains is a memory.

So, as we all enter the holiday season…get those cameras ready!

November reflections

november-leaf-quotographyNovember’s sky is chill and drear,
November’s leaf is red and sear.
~Sir Walter Scott

November is only half over, but a lot has happened, hasn’t it? The election fallout is still falling out and I’m both surprised and saddened by the behavior of some people from both sides. This quote may sum up November in more ways than one.

It’s strange to me how those whose presidential candidate lost have completely abandoned all semblance of common sense and decency. In 2008 and 2012, I don’t recall riots and hysteria when Obama won the election….and I knew plenty of people who detested the outcome. This election has shown the worst side of some people….or sadly, maybe it’s shown them for who they really are.

Bad men cannot make good citizens. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom. ~Patrick Henry

In my opinion, there is absolutely no excuse for anyone demonstrating violence against another person because their candidate lost…or won. It makes me sad to hear of assaults by Trump supporters that spew hatred and “white supremacy.” There is no place for that in America, and those people should be prosecuted.

People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m equally appalled at some Democrat supporters who are rioting in the streets and causing mayhem because Trump won. In Portland, a mob attacked a pregnant woman. She was trying to get to the hospital for a medical emergency. Someone hit her windshield with a bat and then attacked her outside her car. And, what’s with the person taking the video…and posted it on social media? Are these people so heartless and self-absorbed that they have no common decency?

The vitriol on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of communication from Democrat supporters towards anyone who voted for their opponent is so caustic that I believe they’ve turned into the very personification of character traits they rallied against during the election.

The viciousness of words in the populace on both sides are driving wedges between friends, neighbors and families. It’s ridiculous. No amount of justification will excuse being mean-spirited and hateful because you disagree with or want to gloat about the outcome.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. ~1 Peter 3:8-9

In light of all these protests, let’s have a little history lesson.

  • Abraham Lincoln received only 40% of the popular vote in 1860 and narrowly received enough electoral votes to win. No riots resulted from the opposition’s supporters, and he went on to become one of the most beloved presidents in history.
  • In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election over Samuel Tilden by one electoral vote, but lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 votes. No violent assaults erupted.
  • Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168 in 1888. But, Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes. Again, no hysterical protests or calls for abandoning the Electoral College.
  • America is a Republic with a Federalist government. That means power is divided between the states and three branches of government so to avoid disproportionate mob rule.

If a simple majority was to rule the land, candidates would never bother with most of the states except those along each coast. Their focus would only be on states with the largest populations.

And, here’s a few event in history that would not have happened if the majority had had their way:

  • The Declaration of Independence would not have been adopted because most colonists were afraid of the consequences.
  • Slavery would not have been abolished.
  • Women would not have the right to vote.
  • Civil rights legislation would not have been passed.

Wow, those Founding Fathers were pretty darn smart setting up our country to NOT have majority rule.

Up until quite recently, America was one of a few nations where a peaceful transition of power could happen. Apparently, not anymore. The protests that have resulted are anything but peaceful and should come nowhere near being considered a First Amendment Right. How have we become a nation where we have forgotten the tenants of why America was formed; to escape tyranny.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. ~John Adams

Sharing with Quotography and Life Through the Lens.

Dear Younger Me

If I knew then what I know now…….how often have we said that? Or, I’d go back if I could take the brain I have now with me.

Do you ever wonder how different life would be if your younger, more stupid self had been sent a letter by your older, much wiser self?

We’d be able to see what younger self was about to do and warn them, Hey dumb-@$$, don’t do what you’re thinking about doing or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. How awesome would that be? We could avoid a lot of pain, suffering and hardship.

And yet, all those stupid mistakes my younger self made…and the lessons learned….has molded me into who I am today. Okay, maybe I could do without some of those aspects but, on the whole, I know all those experiences happened for a reason. They all were part of a bigger plan and served to skool me in much more than academics.

lisa1976And yet…..if I could warn my younger self about life, here’s what I would say:

Dear Younger Me,

Love yourself. Regardless of what that tag on your clothing says, love the person inside those jeans. If, in your opinion, the packaging needs work, then take measures to become a  healthier me. And remember, you are more than a number on a pair of pants.

Stop being afraid to take a risk. But what if it’s a mistake? Then, it’s a mistake. The awesome thing about life is there’s always the opportunity for a do-over when the sun rises. Don’t look back when you’re 60, 70 or 100 and say, I wish I would have done…….

Life….your career, your marriage, your children….will be a roller coaster ride most of the time. Sometimes it will all feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle, and other times it will feel like an out-of-control, downhill race to the finish line. And there will be those loopy-loops in the middle that make your stomach lurch. But the good and the bad serve a purpose, even if that purpose is above your pay grade at this time. So, don’t be afraid to live, laugh and love….a lot.

Don’t obsess over the small stuff….or small people. Everything from traffic lights to idiot drivers to that five cent error in the checkbook. Life is much too short to be angry or worried over these things. And, likewise about small-minded people whose mission in life is to make you feel inferior and inadequate. These are part of those character-building experiences your parents told you about.

Don’t wish away the pain. Emotional, physical, psychological. You’re going to feel all of it more than you’d like. It sounds trite, but the pain is there to teach and, if you let it, mold you into the best version of yourself. Rarely are lessons learned from the easy, good times in life. Life lessons are mainly learned through pain, heartache, struggles, challenges, devastation and loss. You may not like it, but that’s the way it is. So, embrace the pain and discover what you are supposed to learn from the experience and then move forward…not backwards.

Your faith will wax and wane like the moon. Life experiences will bring you to mountain-top epiphanies, but will also lay you flat with doubts. Through all of this, do whatever it takes to understand these are challenges designed to refine your faith and strengthen it. But even if you walk away and do unspeakable things, remember it’s never too late to turn around and come back. You are never too far gone for forgiveness and grace if you truly desire to have it. God may have just let you wander around feeling lost for a reason.

Some day it will all make sense. But, perhaps not in this life. And that’s okay. You don’t need to figure it all out. Trust that things happen for a reason and God has a specific mountain valley abyss path you need to take. Pray for guidance, and use your head and heart to make the best decisions possible. It will all get sorted out in the end.

With love,
Your Older, Much Wiser Me

And then I’d leave Younger Me with this music video.

Sharing with Life Through the Lens

Sunshine and Grey Skies

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Be someone’s sunshine when their skies are grey.
~Unknown

There are friends….and then there are Friends. You know the ones I mean.

We all have friends..well, most of us anyway. They’re the people we like to hang with, party with, spend a fun evening with; people we like to chase fun with. They are the ones who are more than willing to celebrate with us during the sunshine moments of our lives.

But friendship is much more than having a group of friends that are fun to be around, or lumping large quantities of acquaintances into a category….contrary to what Facebook would have us believe.

While I have lots of acquaintances, my circle of friends is much smaller. These are the ones who, of course, celebrate sunshine moments….but are first in line when life turns into those gray, Eeyore-ish days. They are the ones who go out of their way to bring joy…and sometimes they don’t even realize it.

One such friend, I’ll call her K, shared with me some iris and rose campion plants when she cleaned out a flower bed last summer. A small gesture of friendship. I accepted the dirty bundles and stuck them in a landscaping problem area where I’ve not been successful, not expecting much to happen. In other words, I forgot about them.

Winter was long and spring has been a bit unsettled for me, mentally and emotionally. The past few months have been challenging, and the last few weeks have left me exhausted on all fronts. My month of May-hem has been true to form.

So imagine my surprise when, one warm spring day, I rounded the corner of the house and saw no less than 10 irises in full bloom, with more on the way. The rose campion plants had taken hold and doubled in size from the scraggly tufts I’d planted in the fall.

And I felt joy. Perhaps for the first time in a very long time. Who would have thought a simple thing like an iris bloom could be an attitude changer?

And the juxtaposition of haphazardly planting these flowers in an area where nothing had successfully grown well in the past (except weeds) did not go unnoticed. Because that’s the beauty of real friendship.

They’re the people in our lives who accept the challenge of being there to offer joy to the problem areas of our lives. They cultivate understanding with grace. They are always there, willing to provide a shoulder on which to cry; an extended hand to pull us up from the abyss; a reassuring embrace that somehow makes us think we can make it through. And the beauty they give to our lives can be an attitude changer.

I am blessed with more than one of these types of friends. They are the women who have stuck with me through many seasons of life. I celebrate in the sunshine with them….and know they will always be there when my skies cloud up and become gray. They know my  strengths and weaknesses. They know my heart.

They are my sunshine.

Playing along with Kelly’s Quotography at The Road Goes Ever On and Lisa’s Life Through the Lens at Simply Living Photography.

 

 

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

Songography and LTTL: Dreaming of a place

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Artist: Rudolf Baur; Title: For D; Medium: Pen and ink on paper; Price: $24,000

And I’m dreaming of a place
Where I could see your face
And I think my brush would take me there
~The Painter Song, Norah Jones

Our church heavily promotes the arts of all types…Literary, Film, Music, Visual. But it’s not limited to art in the “sacred” sense. There is no sacred or secular because everything beings to our Creator. Humans were created so it’s ingrained in our DNA that we must create…in one form or another. And, conversely, we are wired to appreciate what others create. Works of art, regardless of the  medium or genre, tells a story about the artist. We may not always like what we see, hear or read, but the art always speaks of deeper insights into the artist’s worldview, culture, hopes, dreams, fears and values. And for that reason, our church encourages Christians not to wall themselves away and only appreciate the “sacred” arts, but to engage in culture and develop a biblical appreciation of the details and craftsmanship that goes into every artist’s work. Art in every form conveys powerful feelings and ideas…sometimes overt but, many times, covert.

So, when it was announced they were hosting a special exhibit of original artwork from a few well-recognized masters, I may have been the first to register. Original works from Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Rudolf Bauer, Marc Chagall, Robert Kipniss, Roberto Matta and Joan Miró were brought in from a local gallery and displayed on the walls of the reception area. I have to admit, the monetary values attributed to some of the works escaped my understanding, but I alway tried to find something to appreciate in each one even when it didn’t appeal to me (aka: Marc Chagall).

viewers

Light appetizers and wine were offered and viewers were visually treated to works of art most of us would otherwise never have the opportunity to see. And I’m going to now share a few of my favorites with you. Click the artist links to learn more about their life, impact on the visual arts, and the motivation behind their artistic passion.

Salvador Dali

Dali-le Centaure

La Divine Comédie: Inferno Canto 25 – Le Centaure, 1960; 71/150; Color Wood Engraving; $8,500

Joan Miró

Miro-Constellations 12 copy

Constellations: 12 – Le 13 l’échelle Frôlé le firmament (On the 13th the Ladder Brushed the Firmament), 1959; 240/350; Pochoir; $12,500

Pablo Picasso

Picasso-red earthenware

Tete De Femme A La Couronne De Fleurs, 1964; 57/100; Red Earthenware Plaque; $65,000

In the end, my left-brained Entrepreneur and I had a lovely time. I feel fortunate to be part of a church family that respects cultural differences even when they differ from our understanding of biblical teachings. Repeatedly, we are encouraged to challenge our cultural stereotypes and find the common ground that allows us to treat others with dignity, grace and understanding. Through their support of the arts, the message of thoughtful consideration and respect comes through loud and clear when it comes to engaging with cultural and worldview differences.

Linking up with Songography and LTTL