Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Magazine Addiction

I am addicted to outdoors magazines, namely ones that contain top-notch photography! As of today, I just ordered my fifth subscription. This doesn't include the ones that I don't subscribe to but purchase regularly anyways.

My all time favourite & photographic inspiration is of course, National Geographic. This is my grandmother's Christmas gift to us for the past two years. I love when my NG arrives in the mail (thanks Gran) That kick-started my magazine love.

Maybe I just really enjoy getting something in the mail that isn't bills or junk but when I get a magazine in the mail, I'm ecstatic. Can't wait to get the work day over with so I can find a comfy spot & tear it open. Usually, I flip through the whole thing first & check out the photos. Then I read the articles.

Also on my subscription list is Canada's 'explore' magazine. Its always got fantastic photos, great gear reviews & terrific adventure articles. I'd love to write for this one some day, and include some photos!

I also really like two more magazines put out by National Geographic: NG Traveller and NG Adventure. I finally gave in & got the Adventure subscription because I was buying each issue as it came out anyhow. It includes more high quality National Geographic photos and a lot great Adventure articles & information.

On Christmas day, I ordered myself a subscription to the magazine PhotoLife. Not only is it a high quality photography magazine, but its Canadian and I have this dear eldery gent in my photo club who's daughter is the editor in chief. So its sort of cool. He has all this fantastic photography knowledge (and if you could see his gear! WOW) so I'm sure this is how she got her photography start!

Now, you would think that would be enough to satisfy my post office expectations but no. Yesterday, on a photography forum that I frequent, a local guy mentioned that a brand new magazine has just been started called Outdoor Photography Canada. In fact, its inaugural issue is to be released in March! How could I not be a part of it! It only comes out 4 times a year so I figured I would join in on what could be a fantastic new magazine! (PS I got the magazine graphic off their website - I'm not sure if I'm supposed to post it here but I guess they could consider it a 'plug' for their new mag, free of charge.)

Anyways, aside from those 5 that will come to my mail box, sometimes I will buy the Canadian Geographic magazine - more top notch photography & stories a little closer to home. I often get the British Columbia magazine...even closer to home. And randomly, I will purchase others if the cover appeals to me. Unfortunately in the magazine world you "do judge a book by its cover" so they try to make those as attention grabbing as possible.

So, that's my secret and now not-so-secret confession I have to share with you. I love outdoors magazines & I don't care who knows it!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Clouds



For Your mercy is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches to the clouds ~ Psalm 108:4

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. ~Mark 13:26

Monday, January 29, 2007

Step by Step

My foot in a hippo footprint in Zambia, Africa

"A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." ~Proverbs 16:9

If everything in life had gone the way I would plan it, I would be in a very different place today! If I was able to 'follow my heart' in each situation I would have missed out on a lot of wonderful things.

The thing about having free will is that we ALL have free will. So the choices I make don't always line up with the choices I want OTHER people to make. And yet, I look back at that place where I may have wished someone else to choose something different & they didn't. At those points I recall asking God to more or less line HIS will up with mine. I didn't try to seek His purpose or His will. I wanted Him to see MY purpose & MY will.

Fortunately for me, God never left the helm & He knew that all those other people's choices were leading up to something better for me, something I couldnt' see beyond those moments of demanding my selfish will against His.

So while I'm busy planning each moment, I have to still remember God is control of the path & guides my steps.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Free Will in Heaven? Sunday Theology!


"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:4

Will we have free will in heaven? This isn't a subject I have researched in depth but it is a question I've been thinking about today and so I decided to see what I could find. Just scanning through some of the pages on the internet that address this topic, I can see its a highly debated question.

I guess what makes me wonder this the most is the plight of the angels. If one third of the angels in heaven could CHOOSE to betray God & follow Lucifer, then will we, once in heaven, have the capability to make choices, both good & bad?


It has been said that "man may retain his free will in heaven but lose his capacity to sin." (1) This could be true because there should be no presence of satan or his demonic forces in heaven because they have been cast out. But that would be following with the theory that all sin is devised of satan & not just man's choices. Our nature is sinful but when we choose to follow Christ, we receive a new nature. Assuming at our death that the old nature is once & for all cast away, our new nature would be sinless. It also is said that our will, or our nature, will be aligned with God's and therefore we would no longer choose sin, even in the face of temptation, if they are present in heaven.

I believe, in the Garden of Eden, Adam & Eve still had free will to make their daily choices; what they didn't have was the influence of evil. Up until Satan deceived them in the Garden, they were free from sin. But their position was different because up until that point, they did not know of sin. In heaven, will our memories of sin on earth be 'erased'. What of the verse in Revelation "no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying...no more pain"? We would have to be free from those memories so as not to suffer for them. They are wiped away from God's memory for eternity so they should be gone from ours. So another question I found is, without these memories, how then, will we still be individuals & not copy-cat beings?

I also came across interesting quote while searching this term from (2) Paul Copan's book “That’s Just Your Interpretation” also causes me to think. "That through our truly libertarian free actions on earth we gain access to heaven where we no longer have this freedom to sin. But if heaven is a place where we longer have the freedom to sin, then God could’ve bypassed our earthly existence altogether. If there is no free will in heaven then why not just create us all in heaven? What does it matter what we did or didn’t do on earth? Furthermore, why reward someone by taking away their free will? If free will can be taken away without a loss of goodness, then why create us with it in the first place?"

Then I came across a very interesting debate in an "Creation Versus Evolution" forum that I'll leave for you to read yourself if you are so interested.

All of this being said, in my ONE day worth of research, I found a lot of opinions & assumptions. Many question why the angels were capable of rebellion in heaven. Many question why we would have free will on earth if we wouldn't in heaven. But I think the truth is, nobody really seems to know for sure what levels of free will we will have in heaven or if we will have it at all. I find some frustration in the unknown like this, especially when many theologians have conflicting opinions. And I wonder why it was not revealed to us, or if it has been, why its so vague to our limited understanding.

In conclusion, I have nothing to conclude but more questions. I will continue to research this topic and would like to know if any of you reading have an opinion on this topic & how you feel about it.

Research & quotes from:
(1) ComeReason Ministries
(2) Debunking Christianity Blog
Creation Versus Evolutin Forum

Friday, January 26, 2007

Forget It!

"... but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead" Philippians 3:13

I'm too young to be losing my memory...but I do forget things now & then that make me wonder. I forgot to renew my car insurance until the day it was due last week but until today, I forgot to actually put the new renewal sticker on the plate. Ooops! My husband went to the city yesterday to do some shopping for supplies for his business. Three times I reminded him to pick up a bag of our favourite coffee beans. Well, he still forgot and coffee this morning was a blend of some other beans.

Today at lunch I looked across the dining room & gasped as I noticed that I had forgotten to water my one poor plant in a long long time. It looked very dead so I said I would throw it in the garbage but my hubby poured a cup of water into it & we'll see if a miracle revival can happen this week.

Sometimes forgetting things can be very costly, not just financially but physically & emotionally. If I forgot to renew my insurance altogether, I could have gotten a ticket if I got pulled over. If someone forgets to take important medication, they risk serious medical conditions, infection or worse. If you forget your spouse's birthday or anniversary, they could be emotionally hurt.

But then there are some things that should be forgotten and may not be so easily done. Unpleasant words, painful memories, tragedies & things that make you angry. I know because I face things like this too that I would like to forget & put behind me.

More than anything, God wants us to put our sin behind us, forgetting all our bad habits, letting them go and move forward onto a life of purity & holiness. This is the kind of forgetting I would like to do!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

To Give You A Future


"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11


Nothing deep & significant to say today but came across this beautiful verse I had underlined in Jeremiah. A special reminder of God's love for us and that He has planned a future to give us hope!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Joyful Sunshine

From the rising of the sun to its going down, the Lord's name is to be praised. ~ Psalm 113:3

But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day ~ Proverbs 4:18


Is the sun shining today in your world? January can be pretty grey here in the valley due to low cloud but today it is sunny & beautifully warm. The snow is melting like mad in the sunny spots & water is dripping off the eaves of my roof. Its almost impossible to get in our front door without getting dripped on. The eaves troughs on this house are full of holes. Will be a repair project for the spring I guess.

Warm days like this have a way of making many people cheerier in the winter. Where I work, 7 of us share a small & rather cramped office space. Though we mostly all get along well, some days cabin fever sets in when we get that feeling of clausterphobia or lack of 'personal space'. I have felt it a lot lately with the cold & gray days. Tensions seems to be a little thicker, attitudes change a bit. Its hard not to be affected when one person is having an off day because we are all so close together.

But a day like today, I notice a huge change. The sunlight brings us alive. We seek some fresh air, open the blinds open a little wider so there is more to see and moods are greatly improved. I think God just knows when we need a sunny day in the middle of a bleak month. The whole atmosphere was light & happy today.

And then I look outside. Birds are everywhere. Though they are around on the cold grey days too, today, they are flitting around the backyard, twittering their joyful thanks to their Maker for such a beautiful day. There are also two squirrels that frequent the backyard. Hadn't seen them in several todays but today I can see them scooting all over the tree tops, playing & chasing. Oh yes, the warmth & sun is affecting them too.

I bet if I went & checked, my persistant little lilac bush will have popped a few more buds today.

Thank you Lord for this sunny day
!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Oh Brother

My brother & I

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love
Romans 12:10

There is no doubt a special bond between brothers & sisters. Most anyone who has a sibling can vouch for this. I have an older brother. Right now, he & his wife live about 8 hours north of here so I don't get to see him very often. The times we do get together are always too brief but usually packed with laughter & great memories.

My mom desperately tries to take a nice 'loving' photo of the two of us when the family gathers. More often than not, my brother & I can manage to stick out our tongues before she clicks the shutter. I could make a whole album of 'tongue sticking out' brother & sister photos.

We were very close growing up being only 2 years apart. Always walked to the bus together, walked home together and spent loads of time playing outside together. We grew up on an acreage out of town so there were no other neighbourhood kids to play with, no malls to walk to, just the great outdoors, tonnes of open space, our big imaginations and eachother! Couldn't have asked for a better place to grow up. Tonnes of forts to build, trees to climb, rocks to scale, places to hide, room to hit a softball, play basketball, hockey & more.

I could fill pages & pages with childhood memories, memories that I hope I never forget. Not all perfect of course, but what family is? We did manage to have our 'brother vs sister' fights, as most children do, but through it all, I never doubted my brothers love for me. I knew that he would always be there for me & we'd be friends again after any fight. Brotherly Love is one of those 'no matter what' loves. At least I think it SHOULD be. I know there are many families who don't share this kind of love and I don't take mine for granted.

There are many references in the Bible to 'loving your brother'. Not just the ones you are related to by blood but all the 'brothers in Christ'. However, I think loving your family is the most important place to start with love. Brotherly Love is talked about a lot in the First book of John. In fact, the word love is used 26 times in this tiny book so God is really using it to get His point across about loving our brethren. I share some with you now.

"He who loves his brother abides in the light" ~ 1 John 2:10

"But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? ~ 1 John 3:17

"He who loves God must love his brother also" ~ 1 John 4:21

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Budding


For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. ~Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Winter can be a really bleak time of year. It can feel like the world around me is laying in dormancy for what seems like much longer than all the other seasons. When the leaves finally fall off the trees here in the fall, they stand out against the brilliant whites of snow and seem naked & desolate under the low grey skies.

Their appearance of lifelessness sometimes leaves me with a feeling of sadness as I observe them from a distance. Like a strong stubborn will is the only thing that holds them in place and that one strong wind could swoop them away out of their position as they patiently wait for spring.

But then I look closer. Even in the cold temperatures of -10 Celcius or more, something is happening. They have begun their transformation already and the tiniest buds have started to appear. Slowly, as the temperatures warm over the next few weeks, these buds will get bigger & stronger. The strong & stubborn tree nourishes them & protects them in their birth. The journey towards spring comes at a snails pace but if you arent' paying attention, it can be upon you in an instant. A green shoot here, a stubborn bud there. I see it already!

I was out pruning my lilac bushes on Friday afternoon right after work. Most of them had tiny new buds all over, which made it easier to decide where to prune but I got to one bush & its buds were large, plump and held the slightest tinge of green. I chastised this particular bush & informed it that it was still the middle of January and that it ought to slow down a bit. Perhaps these bushes are eager to show off for us, being that we bought this house in October & have not had the opportunity to see what sort of lilacs will show come spring.

Still, I'm not in that big of a rush for spring! I do love seeing all the signs that it is on its way. It will be an exciting spring for sure because everything that pokes through the dirt here on our new property will be a surprise.

But everything in its time. I know the winter is not quite past, there are no robins singing yet & there are definitely no flowers appearing up in my yard yet. But I'm so thankful the Lord gives us seasons so that there is always something great to anticipate in the next one.

He has made everything beautiful in its time

~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Like A Walk In The Park?




Like a walk in the park. When someone uses that term its usually to imply that something is EASY. Ha! Today I went for 'a walk in the park' and it was anything but easy! Winter loosened its grip on us this morning & made for a beautifully warm day, hovering around zero. So I packed myself up to get out of the house & get some fresh air & find some fresh photos. I headed to Hayne's Point. My favourite park to visit & one close enough to walk to. However, the light dusting of snow made the walking no less than treacherous! Though the new snow provided a crunchy bit of texture for my boots to grip to, how surprised I was to find the layer of solid ICE an inch below this nice crunchy snow. Slipping & sliding through the park, I gave in to the fact that I would have to walk like a penguin to get through the park in one piece. How I wish I could have slid on my belly across the ice like penguins do instead of watching my every step with fear. It made it hard to sight-see when I was so cautious of my footing. Some 'walk in the park'!

Still, I managed to scoot my way down the paths to my fave vantage points for some snow shots. The sky was slightly overcast which is perfect for snow photography, in my opinion. And there were bird & critter prints all over the snow. Fascinating. I could tell exactly where the local beavers had been & which hole in the ice they came in & out of. There was a very peculiar set of dog prints that I followed with wonder. There was one long line through the prints like it was on a single ski. I stared at it for a while & then concluded that his owner probably dropped his leash & let him walk himself for a while, the leash dragging in the snow behind him. Sound reasonable?






I saw a lot of dog prints on the shore when I was walking on the road nearest the waters edge (this park is surrounded by Osoyoos lake on both sides) I went down to check them out & noticed that it was relatively easy to walk along the shore because there was no ice build up. So I could give up the penguin walk and trot along without staring at my feet. I also noticed that some parts of the ice on the snow-covered lake had been pushed together to form some great cracks. Down on my knees, using my elbows as my tripod, I found fantastic ice caverns with stalagtites & stalagmites in the world of macro photography and there I crouched, lost in this divine world of ice!






So my walk in the park ended up being a fantastic time of discovery & photography! Maybe it wasn't easy, but it was very ENJOYABLE!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tears in a Bottle

"You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle..." Psalm 57:8

Its been a long time since I've had a good cry! There has been an overwhelming amount of joy in my life in recent months & it seems I havent had a reason to shed tears. I know there are many who shed tears out of joy and I suppose I've experienced that before too. But bone-wracking tears of sadness, hurt or pain are the kind I'm thinking of at the moment. Tears of despair, loss or fear. The kind that come from deep within. I haven't had that kind in a while, for which I'm thankful.

I think we all go through these times of sorrow & loss. And sometimes its easy to feel very very alone during this. In fact, sometimes it feels BETTER to feel very very alone as it just fuels the sorrow even deeper. Often though, we can be the one on the outside, looking in or trying to console the one with tears.

You parents out there can relate to the feeling of seeing your child hurt, sad or sorrowful. You want to take away their pain. Your heart hurts for them. Spouses, family members and close friends can also relate, when you see someone you love suffering. How much you want to be there for them, dry their tears, hold them & tell them everything will be all right. Sometimes it can be just what that person needs. Sometimes its not enough.

If there is so much love in your hearts for these people you love, imagine the love God feels when He sees our tears. He wants to remind of us his overwhelming & perfect love, even in our sorrow!

For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. Psalm 116:8

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping... shall doubtless come again with rejoicing. Psalm 126:4-5

He does not forget the cry of the humble. Psalm 91:12

In my distress I called upon the LORD,And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears. Psalm 18:6

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Snow Day

Sunset on Osoyoos
"As snow in summer and rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool." Proverbs 26:1

Winter is not giving up its grip on us this year. Another inch or two of snow fell on us this morning, making the valley a beautiful white & the valley roads VERY dangerous. Its a good thing we don't have far to go today. I'm a very blessed with a 5 minute 'commute' to my day job. I have had many jobs where I drove up to an hour to get to work and many days of scary winter roads.

I have a co-worker leaving for 2 weeks in Hawaii next week. We're all feeling a little bit of envy as we pick up the snow shovels, lace up the boots & pull another touque on our heads to face this snowy day. Thoughts of hot sandy beaches, clear warm waters & tropical flowers fill my fantasies as I think of where she's going and longing for that sultry summer day again.

However, it IS only January. Thankfully, global warming isn't so out of control that it negates winter altogether. I enjoy all seasons & it wouldn't seem like winter without some of the white stuff. Sort of like the verse in Proverbs about snow in summer. It wouldn't be fitting...but it DOES happen now & then at certain places. However, seeing as God is in total control of the weather, if He wants Calgary, Alberta to have some snow in July, its going to get snow in July. *snicker*

So, the trade off for our temperatures getting slightly warming, creeping back up to the PLUS side of zero, is that we get some moisture coming down. Maybe more tonight. Maybe more tomorrow. But day by day, the sun rises a little earlier & sets a little later & we are getting ever closer to the inevitable happening of Spring.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I am a mushroom

Me & Heimlich filling our faces at Disneyland

"For You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." Psalm 139: 13-14

I've been tagged! I guess I'm relatively new to the blogging world because I had no idea what that meant. However, my tagging friend Barb said that to be tagged, I had to post 5 weird facts about myself on my blog today. So today, its all about ME!!

Let me just start by saying Weird is Fun! Its fun to have a few strange things in your life that make a few jaws drop. How boring it would be if you did everything everyone expected. Of course there is good weird & bad weird in this day & age but really, I think you all know what I'm talking about!

God has made each one of us unique! He did not make a world of identical robots & we all have our own unique personalities & looks. In a world where many try so hard to achieve a certain look, achieve a certain lifestyle or be part of a certain group of friends, all that effort can sometimes be absorbed in our personalities and people put up 'masks' to become someone they truly aren't.

For example, Weird Thing #1, some days I wish I could be Lara Croft (from the movies, not the game) because not only is she a beautiful woman that gets to kick butt, she gets to travel to many places I would LOVE to travel to also. How cool would that be!! So, is that weird? Its a start.

Weird Thing #2 - I love taking photos of bark. Yes, tree bark. I never seem to do anything with these photos, never print them or display them. I guess I just love the textures of the rough bumpy lines of different types of trees. Especially Ponderosa Pines. As a kid, we would pick off sections like it was a puzzle & then try & put them back on. Every Ponderosa I see is a great memory of those 'puzzling' childhood days.

Memories are a special gift, especially the good ones. Any of the 5 senses can bring back very powerful memories. For example, hearing the song "StaggerLee" makes me think of road trips that my mom & I have gone on where we laughed hysterically. Any time I pass a pineapple in the grocery store, I think of the time Lawrence grabbed one & danced with it on his head in the fruit & veggie aisle while singing "I like to move it".

Weird Thing #3: I have a lot of memories associated with different foods every time I eat them. Today I have a small bag of barbecue chips. Always, when I eat those, I think of my grandpa. There never seemed to be a shortage of chips there & BBQ were always in a bowl somewhere, whether it was Christmastime, a Grey Cup party or just a regular visit, I remember BBQ chips! Same with Kraft Dinner - I often think of my Great Aunt Helen & how we had it a zillion times at her place, always with a dill pickle on the side. Whenever I see blue bubblegum icecream, I think of the time my friend, Janine & I ate an entire tub in one weekend, spilling blue icecream on her white duvet.

We all have our little secrets & securities. Mine is George the elephant. Weird Thing #4 - I still sleep with a stuffed animal. For many years it was Lan, my beloved stuffed lamb, but years of wear & tear has earned him a place of honor on the night table due to the fact that his 'wool' is no longer snuggly but somewhat scratchy, he has a sock for an ear cuz one got ripped off decades ago & his stuffing sometimes falls out. George the elephant was a gift from my friend Georgina at my 17th birthday and is Lan's stand-in & has become the favourite to be lovingly tucked under my arm at night. Sometimes Geoge suffers abuse at the hand of my jealous husband, thrown from the bed or suffocated to near-death. But for the most part Geoge is accepted & sometimes, even my husband makes sure he's packed for over-nighters or trips away.

And lastly, while it may not be that 'out there' Weird Thing #5: I loooooove MUSHROOMS! I use any excuse I can find to add cooked mushrooms to a meal. If you don't like mushrooms (like many people don't) then I will have a hard time feeding you. Mushroom omlettes, mushrooms with steak, mushrooms with chicken, chunky mushroom soup, mushrooms with pasta, seafood stuffed mushroom caps and on and on and on. They are truly my favourite addition to my meals! All the time, from those who are anti-mushroom I get reminded that they are a fungus or that they are grown in manure, or they're slimy, or they taste weird, or, or, or. There is no deterrant for my love of mushrooms.

And because I love eating them (the plain old white variety usually) I also am fascinated by the ones I see in the wild. I love to photograph them. Big golden ones like in the photo above. Tiny slimy looking ones. Ones that poof dust out when you poke them. Hard ones that grow out of trees. Their fantastically unique and somewhat strange... JUST LIKE ME! I am a mushroom.

And there you have it, 5 weird things about me!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Consider the ravens


"Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?" Luke 12:24

For the past several days, my husband & I have been designing our future home on this great program called Google Sketch-up. He has already been designing the shop & living quarters for the past couple months but lately, we decided to layout the floor plan for the loft on top where we might live. Its been loads of fun, placing the furniture, designing the kitchen, placing windows here & there and stuff like that. (An amazing and FREE program) My husband does all the technical stuff & I say 'put a shelf here' or 'add a few more kitchen cupboards' to the drawing. When its just a drawing, you can add all the fancy stuff you want!

Yet, we know it will probably take a couple years before we can save up enough to get the project complete and that not all of the design elements will be affordable. We already know which order the priority has to go. Thank goodness I married the world's most amazing handyman - not much he can't do when it comes to this sort of thing. But if we do a little at a time, we'll still be able to get by with food & mortgage payments! You know, the basics!

I think if we looked at the overall picture & costs of things we wanted it would be an overwhelming sum and there could be a lot of worrying & stress added to our lives on how we would accomplish it all...or even if we could.

Fortunately, we have the time, and he has the skills, that we can look at it as a series of smaller projects instead of one giant project as a whole.

Worrying about the future can be pretty unhealthy. Not only to your mental health but extreme worrying can also cause physical health issues like ulcers, sleep deprivation and anxiety attacks.

But then there is always that gentle reminder, that if we trust God we should not worry about things, He will look after our needs. If He is so caring to make sure the ravens have food & shelter, we need to trust that He will be caring for us too, as we take it one step at a time.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I Made The Choice

Masai children in Tanzania

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Matthew 5: 3-6

It took me most of the weekend, but I finally chose a child! After getting many opinions & skipping back and forth between their two websites, I chose a child from Compassion Canada instead of World Vision. I highly recommend both of them but Compassion had a bit of an edge in the opinions of those I asked so I went with it. I don't think I'm going to be disappointed.

I chose a little boy from Tanzania, age 5, named Vicktor. He had the biggest eyes I'd ever seen & his little photo just lept off the page at me. I can't wait to get my sponsorship package in the mail.

Many things ran through my head after I made the official choice. The biggest thought being "will I be able to meet him one day?". I chose a Tanzanian child because if I do ever get back to Africa one day, Tanzania will be the country I most likely visit. In Tanzania, there is the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Masai Mara and Nakuru National Park, just to name a few reasons to visit.
I guess the biggest risk with a venture such as this is the fact that, although I am donating to improve his health & welfare, there are many factors that could lead to him getting sick or dying that are outside of anyone's control but God.

This is why the biggest thing I can do for this chosen child is PRAY for him. I may never get to meet him here on earth, but I can pray that we may meet in heaven. Compassion is heavily involved in not only physical needs but spiritual needs of the child & his community. He already attends some form of Sunday School, as do all of the children on the Compassion program. They learn about the Bible and heaven & Jesus' love for them. What's more important than their soul?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

God's Weather

Ice on the Similkameen River

"...cold from the scattering winds of the north. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen. " Job 37:9-10

Studying weather & seasons is fascinating. I'm constantly referring the weather websites to see what's going on in my region & across the country. I'm sure I get this fascination from my Dad. He's always loved weather & weather patterns. Living in southern BC, we are fortunate to get a wide range of all types of weather throughout our seasons. We've been having quite a cold spell again here in the Okanagan so I thought I would look up to see what the Bible has to say about ICE. And I made a fantastic discovery.

Today, I discovered an entire section of the Bible dedicated to weather. Though I have read the book of Job before, I did not recall this detailed & awe-inspiring section all about weather, created & maintained by God. And so, from the second half of chapter 36, and all of verse 37...I share with you God's Weather!

Clouds above Vernon, BC

"Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds; He scatters His bright clouds. And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, that they may do whatever He commands the on the face of the whole earth." Job 37: 11-12


Mist & clouds surround a farm

"For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, the thunder from His canopy?" Job 36: 27-29


Clouds & mist in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

"Even now men cannot look at the light when it is bright in the skies, when the wind has passed and cleared them." Job 37:21

"He does great things which we cannot comprehend. For He says to the snow, "Be on the earth"; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength." Job 37:5-6


Sunset on the Zambezi River, Zambia

"Remember to magnify His work, of which men have sung. Everyone has seen it; Man looks on it from afar." Job 36:24-25

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pets

"A righteous man regards the life of his animal..." Proverbs 12:10

Some thoughts about pets. We got a new kitten for Christmas from some friends. His name is Petzl (anyone familiar with rock climbing equipment may recognize the name) and he compliments our growing family of two budgies, Rafiki & Thumper & our one portly & somewhat scowly cat, Shy.

Interestingly enough, I'm allergic to cats. When Lawrence & I got married, Shy got the boot and became an outdoor cat. This past December we had quite a cold snap, too cold for her to be outside so she came in to live in the heated porch, allowed in the rest of the house when we are home. Lawrence bought a kitty door & built it in so she can go out if she wants. Hasn't wanted to much. But I had always felt a bit of an allergic reaction around her.

In comes Petzl, adorable cute & fuzzy little kitten. *like who can resist a kitten...even with allergies* At first, my allergies went nuts, itchy eyes, runny nose, eczema & sneezing because I couldn't stop touching him. But, as the days & now weeks have passed, my body seems to be fighting back. The symptoms are still there but they've GREATLY reduced even though I spend more time with both cats.

Can you outgrow allergies the same way they come on? I never had a cat allergy until about 5 years ago. Up till then, I always had cats around. Then something changed & I couldn't even be in a room with them. Now, its somewhere in the middle & seems to be decreasing. Its a little bit exciting actually.

I've always loved pets! They can add such life to a home, both joy & frustration. I've had birds, dogs, cats & fish. There's nothing like the unconditional love of a dog. Always happy to see you, play with you, go for car rides. I will definitely have a dog again one day. Fish are actually quite a relaxing pet. I could stare in the fish tank and watch them & feel soothed. Birds can be very entertaining. Especially when there is two of them. But they also make quite a racket and quite a mess. Not a pet for the insanely neat.

You can learn a lot about people by whether or not they like animals or have pets I think! I think people with pets are often more 'down to earth'. I see a lot more compassion in animal people. Dunno, just an observation.

Do you ever wonder WHY some animals were put on earth? I mean, afterall, they were created first and THEN us humans & yet we were set to 'have dominion' over the animals. What are their purposes? Not every animal is good for eating or working, some are just beautiful and some are pretty funny looking. Somehow I think they were just put on this earth for people's enjoyment or amusement and companionship. I can't help but smile when I see a hippo or giraffe! How did God come up with the idea for a platypus, or the hammerhead shark or the ostrich? What about heaven? Will animals be there? Its a much debated topic that I guess I'll just have to wait & see. There are a few pets I would love to see again for their loving & loyal qualities. Hmm, I bet Shy won't be there.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Photography

My husband, Lawrence, out taking pix with me.


"O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions."
Psalm 104:24

Its no secret that I love photography. Its also no secret that I love the great outdoors. Nature was my first love - hiking, camping, fishing - all that stuff - but I found a renewed joy in being 'out there' by hauling a camera around with me in my adventures!There are so many beautiful and interesting things to see when I'm outside. Often on hikes, I could hike on by for hours, taking it all in & the beauty that I see on the journey. Now, I may not get more than 15 minutes on a trail because I stop to photograph this & that. Sometimes, I can be completely enamoured in one spot that I go no further, my whole time consumed with an interesting log or tree, a wild array of color or texture, or maybe just a vantage point where the views are endless.

Most of the time when I go out, I'm by myself. Photography is a quiet hobby for most. I get inspired by what's around me & lose myself in the enjoyment of what I see thru my lens. Sometimes, I have a shooting partner. I love those times too. Lawrence, my hubby, comes with me now & then. I dress him in some bright color like red or orange so that he makes a bold contrast if I catch him in any of my scenes. And sometimes its the only way I can get a photo of myself when he's around.

I also enjoy photo outtings with our local photo club. How fun it is to go to a park or location with 15 - 20 other photographers & roam around & see what other people are shooting, get some tips & some new ideas. Then, compare some shots after all the processing or developing has been done.

Its a great passion that never seems to get boring; it never runs out of things to learn, things to experience, or new things to try. The equipment is always changing, just by changing your focus or exposure you can get different effects and you can look at the same thing over & over & still find something new.

Not everyone loves photography or spending time in the great outdoors like I do. But I hope I never get tired of it. Because there is so much beauty all around me, waiting to be seen, with or without a camera! Thank you Lord for the gift of this beautiful planet!!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Fears


Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

Sometimes I have a fear of heights. Its sort of a strange fear compared to some because I can stand on the edge of a cliff, hang off a mountain & stare off a bridge & I don't fear that. Its the 'dangly height' fear. Like gondolas & trams & suspension bridges! But, I continue to try new things & push myself with my fears. Like the Gondola for example in the photo. I went up it, all by myself in Banff, Alberta! Had to take photos to prove I really did it! And then, I decided to cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver. It wasn't that scary at all though there was one lady who went across on her hands & knees. I guess she had worse fears than me! So, I try new things sometimes.

Last weekend, hubby & I took a whirlwind trip to Chilliwack in my car. The roads were fine for half the way, till we hit the mountain pass. Scary stuff! Blowing snow, sleet, wind & icy roads. He was driving & I was scared stiff. The worst part was, I knew I would have to drive home myself the next day because we were there to get him a work van.

I got in the car on Saturday afternoon & I was nervous even before we left the city. Just because I knew of what was to come. However, I'll take my blessings in small doses. Though I was white-knuckled & shaking on the first hour of my drive home, I realized I was doing fine. It wasn't snowing & it was just snowy. No visibility issues, no majour ice. Just compact snow & some slush. I followed my sweety in his van for 4 hours & kept thanking God over & over that it wasn't snowing & that I wasn't in the ditch (for I did see a bad truck accident) All the "fear not" songs & verses I could think of came to my mind which I repeated in my head over & over.

And when we got back home to Osoyoos & he asked me how I was, I said "I hope I don't have to do that again." And his response is "but now you know you CAN!". Ahh, how true that was.

Maybe this year I can try killing my own spiders...maybe!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Life In My Hands

Beautifuls smiles in Lushoto, Tanzania

After yesterday's post, I spent a great deal of time thinking about Africa. I poured over the headlines of what's been happening over there & searched through the most recent archives to see if there has been some good stuff too, and not just all the bad. Things like the New UN Deputy is from Tanzania, and the opening of Oprah's school for girls in South Africa. But most of the news has been bad...or else it isn't news for the big headliners.

Last November, when we were building our Shoeboxes, hubby & I talked about sponsoring a child in the new year. So last night I poured over the World Vision Canada & Compassion Canada websites, trying to decide how to go about it & which one would be the best. I looked at hundreds of little photos of children in need of sponsorship from all over. So many choices. How do you choose one child & ignore all the rest? And then, its like I have a life in my hands, where my donation may make a personal difference in his or her life. It feels like such a big responsibility, on who to choose & where & why.

So, all I have decided so far is that I want the child to be from Africa because that's where I feel the most connected with, but that still gives me many many children to choose from. But first, I must pick which organization.

This is the tougher part because they both seem like they are doing fantastic things. I've been recommmended to both. They both cost the same, and they are both Christian based. I guess I'll be doing some more research. If anybody reading this has any insight for either of these, please let me know.

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.~Matthew 18:5

“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” ~Mark 9:37

Defend the poor and fatherless;Do justice to the afflicted and needy. ~Psalm 82:3


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Africa Dreaming

Africa holds a special place in my thoughts & so you will find that I will talk about it often.
Today is just some random thoughts :)

There have been a lot of news headlines involving Africa this week:

Kenya closes border with Somalia to keep militants out ~ CNN

Somali fighters: We'll heed al Qaeda's Call ~ CNN

Libya to Build Statue of Saddam~ BBC News

Al Qaeda urges Islamists to attack Ethiopians ~ Nazret - Ethiopia News Portal

And many many more. I wonder if my dream of returning to Africa is going to become just a distant memory. With all the wars & terrorism & destruction going on in Africa & the middle east, I feel like travelling to these countries is no longer safe nor wise. In fact, will overseas travel in general become a gamble in the future? I truly believe that our time of 'peace on earth' is a thing of the past, if it was ever a reality in the first place. Wars & rumors of wars? Nation against nation. The outlook is suddenly becoming the UPlook. How near is Christ's return?

True, there are many safe & neutral areas these days. As always, Australia pretty much keeps to itself, Switzerland never meddles in any one else's problems. No terrorism going on in Antarctica that's been reported lately. The Canadian North seems like a safe place to vacation...

But seriously, after the time I spent in Africa, I fell in love with the country & promised myself that I would be back. But a whole lot of 'ugly' has happened in the world in the past two years that has spread its terrorist fingers to places where people are desperate. As if these countries don't have enough to deal with like famine, poverty, drought, AIDS, & more, so lets add terrorism & more war.


Maybe this is all the more reason to go back, not just to fulfill my own pleasures but to give back to those who need it. The troubles & wars aren't likely going to get better, so why not help while we still can? There are so many ways to help that I just don't know where to begin. But its a growing thought, that will require some research and some time.

"And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows." Mark 13: 7-8

Friday, January 05, 2007

Come This Way
















According to the Canadian Encyclopedia "Inukshuk (singular), meaning "likeness of a person" in Inuktitut (the Inuit language) is a stone figure made by the Inuit. The plural is inuksuit. The Inuit make inuksuit in different forms and for different purposes: to show directions to travellers, to warn of impending danger, to mark a place of respect, or to act as helpers in the hunting of caribou. Similar stone figures were made all over the world in ancient times, but the Arctic is one of the few places where they still stand. An inukshuk can be small or large, a single rock, several rocks balanced on each other, round boulders or flat. Inuit tradition forbids the destruction of inuksuit. "


I went through a period in my life where I felt I needed an Inukshuk to show me the way. I struggled to find my feet & longed for something to point me in the right direction. Somehow, I found it on my own. After a long hike in the backwoods in southern BC, I sat on the edge of a rock cliff, facing a beautiful green valley belon & found some peace. I didn't need to find myself with someone else's direction, all I was & wanted to be was inside me the whole time & the most soul satisfying place I could find was in the great outdoors!


So right then & there, on that rock ledge, I built myself a mini Inukshuk out of the rocks within reach. It was a reminder. A reminder for myself that I had found a good place, in nature & in my soul. A reminder to others that if they come this way, the path was a good one to follow.


When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path.~ Psalm 142:3

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Some Beach, Somewhere

Powdery soft pristine beaches, wild arrays of turquoise & emerald colored waters, tropical fish zig-zagging around my feet, an umbrella drink in my hand & thoughts of snow & ice a distant memory. Ahhh, how I'd love to be on some beach, somewhere right now.

But, instead, its 6:00 in the morning, the only light outside is the MOON, I have to start my car early to defrost the windshield & I'm dressed in layers to face the various stages of cold. Hard to believe winter has only just officially started two weeks ago.

So instead of having this warm-weather beach fantasy, today I'm going to focus on what there is to love about winter! Hmmm... nothing jumps to mind. Perhaps the best way to do it is with child-like eyes. Children don't worry about if the roads are going to be icy, whether or not they'll have to shovel in the morning, or if their feet are going to get wet. Winter holds a lot of joy if you look at it through the eyes of a child. So first, I'll just simply look out the window...

The whole world is sparkling like a million diamonds are spread across a blanket of white, moon beams bouncing from each crystal with a magical shimmer. You don't see sights like this in the summer.

And again I do love the purity & beauty of snow. At a time of the year when the skies can be so cloudy & dark, a covering of snow brightens up a dull & dreary world!


And, with child-like joy, think of all the ways there is to PLAY in the winter - sledding, skating, skiing, snowmobiling. Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, make snow angels, catch a snowflake on your tongue! Remember what it was like to have a 'snow day' with nothing but time to PLAY.

"But I'm not a child," you say. "I'm a grown up & this snow & ice is hindering what I need to do!" I can relate! I get mighty frustrated when I get stuck in my own driveway - most of us don't have jobs that allow us to come in when the weather clears. However, you can think of winter as a time of year that allows other luxuries. Come spring time there will be lawns to mow, gardens to tend & many other outdoor obligations or pleasures. Winter is a time to find the joys in INDOOR projects. Finish reading that book you started, process all the photos you took in the fall, play a board game with your family, research your family history or just plain relax, feet up on the couch & remember that come Spring, you'll be too busy for a moment like this.

Winter Quotes:

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there within me lay an invincible summer ~ Albert Camus

Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life's relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes, which vanish with the warmth. ~Soren Kierkegaard

To shorten winter, borrow some money due in spring. ~ W.J. Vogel

There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can't think what to do with the long winter evenings. ~ Quentin Crisp

Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat ~ unknown

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reaching Forward



"Forgetting those things which are behind & reaching forward to those things which are ahead" Philippians 3:13

As always in January, many people like to make "New Year's Resolutions". Often these including trying something new or leaving behind something old. Myself, for a number of years I've wanted to learn to kayak!! So, once again, it is my 'resolution' for January, maybe this is the year that I will fit it into my warm weather schedule. I also made a goal to try & blog here every day, even something short. It will help me develop my creative writing skills & help me connect with those of you who read my blog.

2006 was a year FULL of blessings that I almost feel sad to leave it behind. However, I can only anticipate 2007 might be as good, if not better & that gives me some excitement of something to look forward to!

Did you make any resolutions for 2007? What were they? Get into shape? Eat more healthy? Stop smoking? Start exercising? Learn something new? Work less? Play more? For some of us, its hard to leave things in the past whether or not its an unhealthy habit, a sinful lifestyle or a painful memory. But looking forward is what we need to do.

My prayer for you in this new year is the strength to leave behind those things & reach forward to the good things...

"forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 3:13-14

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

White As Snow


"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Isaiah 1:18

Its the winteriest winter in the Okanagan that we have had in a long time. The snow came early in December & it just stayed instead of melting away like normal. A white Christmas it was indeed! It was fantastic. My husband & I were like little kids playing out in the snow in December. Sliding down the hill on crazy carpets, zipping the remote control snowmobile around on the street & watching the flakes fall with awe.

I love waking up to new fallen snow or watching it falling, especially if I have nowhere to go. Its gentle, its magical & its so clean & white. There is something so pure about snow.

However, it won't be long till we are longing for Spring. And if it doesn't come soon enough, we start dreaming about warm climates like the Caribbean or the Mediterranean.

When I think of locations in Biblical times, I think of sandy deserts, rocky valleys & warm climates around the Mediterranean. I don't think of climates in the snow. But snow is mentioned several times in the Bible, especially in reference to its color so it is obvious that it was around those areas too.

In both 2 Samuel & 1 Chronicles, snow is mentioned in reference with one of David's mighty men, Benaiah, "he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow " Assuming those lions were also in Moab, what can we learn about its climate?

The Biblical country of Moab is now part of modern day Jordan, on the east side of the Dead Sea. Its average yearly temperature is 20 Celcius but, in an extra cold year they can have up to 8 days of snow. Much milder than my beautiful Okanagan valley but just enough of a window for Benaiah to get out there & slay some lions or lionlike men.

Snow is also mentioned in reference to Lebanon in Jeremiah 18:14 "Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field?" Biblical Lebanon was much bigger than what modern day Lebanon is, a land full of natural beauty & high snowy mountains. In fact, many interpretations of the word Lebanon mean 'white' or 'snowy white'. With so many parts of the Bible occuring in around Lebanon, we can be sure that there were many experiences with snow around this area.

Statistics aside of WHERE snow was in Biblical times, the best reference to snow in the Bible was its purifying color. "says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" Isaiah 1:18 Wow! Scarlet has to be one of the richest & deepest colors that I can imagine. I think of the lasting stain that spilling some red wine can make on a white cloth and imagine that stain as my sin. Ugly, obvious & unremovable. I can try to clean it, hide it, cover it or put it in a closet, much like we try to do with our sin. But there is not one thing I can do to make that stain go away completely. So it is with my scarlet sin! Only God can make it white as snow!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!



My heart is overflowing with a GOOD THEME; I recite composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. ~ Psalm 45:1


Happy New Year & welcome to 2007. I begin this year with thoughts of writing and I opened up to Psalms & this verse jumped off the page at me. This is my goal for this blog this year - to overflow with a Good theme concerning the King!


Today I offer you only verses from Psalms for starting the new year with a Good Theme:



Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. ~ Ps. 37:5


Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~ Ps. 90:12

This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice & be glad in it. ~Ps. 118:24


Your word is a lamp unto my feet & and light to my path. ~Ps. 119:105


Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! ~ Ps. 150:6