Tag Archives: loved

Photo Essay: Chincoteague and Assateague in 12 Shots

15 Nov

It’s hard to summarize my favorite relaxation spot, Chincoteague Island, VA in less than a several hundred photographs.  But because I know you don’t want to sit through an entire slideshow, I’ve chosen 12 (I tried to only pick 10) of my favorite photos from my trip last month to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague National Seashore.  These aren’t necessarily my best shots, yet they have captured my heart for various reasons.  I hope to show you more of my photographs in the coming weeks, but we know how I’ve been about blogging as of late… (Note: Click on the picture to view the image in a bigger format!)

Where/What is it?:  A view of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR) just after sunrise.

Why I Like It:  It’s the golden hour and it’s CNWR.  Need I say more?  It’s been my laptop’s wallpaper for a weeks.

Where/What is it?:  Mature Blue Heron, CNWR

Why I Like It:  The heron is just starting to take off or land (I can’t recall) and it looks like it is dancing with the wind.

Where/What is it?:  Assateague Pony on the Maryland side of Assateague (though they’re actually horses, but are called ponies due to their small stature.)

Why I Like It:  BFF Sarah and I just happened upon a group of five mares wandering along the edge of the beach campgrounds.  Before Sarah got out of the car, I had a moment to be with these wild creatures.  Plus, I got the iconic pony on the beach shots I was hoping for.  They’re  not running along the ocean’s edge, but this was still pretty special.  I dare say it was a holy moment given to me by God.

Where/What is it?:  Assateague Pony on the Maryland side of Assateague National Seashore (though they’re actually horses, but are called ponies due to their small stature.)

Why I Like It:  This mare was part of the group of five I mentioned above, but she seemed to take a special interest in going eyeball to eyeball with me.  There we were observing one another and I believe a little bit of respect and awe passed between us in the calm warmth of the day.  I have some more great shot of this girl!

Where/What is it?: A tree & a Sika deer (an Oriental elk introduced to the island by settlers), CNWR

Why I Like It:  Since I broke my foot, I haven’t had much practice with my Canon T3i so I didn’t yet understand all my settings, which is how I missed the Sika deer for the tree.  This picture would be perfect if the deer was in focus, but alas, she’s not.  Still, the photo is sort of artistic and makes me laugh.

Where/What is it?: Osprey, CNWR

Why I Like It:  This is one of my very favorite photo subjects!  After years of trying, I was FINALLY able to photograph a bird of prey and only on my second day at CNWR.  The funny part is that I was photographing a yet-to-be-identified bird on the logs below and I looked up into the tree and saw the osprey.  This is one of those pictures where my DSLR upgrade from the Canon XTi to the 3Ti makes a huge difference in the quality of the photograph.

Where/What is it?: Assateague National Seashore (ANS), Maryland side

Why I Like It:  It’s a  pretty underwater shot near where Sarah and I like to eat lunch in Assateague.  The shoreline was devastated and the area that used to be a grassy picnic area is now a sandy beach area.

Where/What is it?: Beach at sunrise, ANS (Virginia side)

Why I Like It:  Sarah and I got up very early to watch the sun rise on the beach and it was a beautiful experience.  I hadn’t planned on walking on the beach because I was being cautious about my healing foot, but I made it and this photo is the result.  I took a picture of the only other person on the beach.  I hope he doesn’t mind.

 Where/What is it?: Great Egret, CNWR

Why I Like It:  I had a chance to observe this bird for a while and got some pretty shots.  This is my favorite out of the whole set.

 Where/What is it?: Cormorant, CNWR

Why I Like It: These diving birds crack me up.  I love how this little guy just waddled out of the water.  I have better shots of cormorants, but this one makes me chuckle.

Where/What is it?: Delmarva Peninsula Squirrel (Endangered), CMWR

Why I Like It: Who doesn’t love squirrels?  And these particular squirrels are endangered, but this little fella was busy hiding nuts for the long winter ahead.  To me, it seems that these squirrels have extra fluffy tails.

Where/What is it?: Down by the docks in Chincoteague Island, VA (city)

Why I Like It: I enjoy watching the sun set down by the docks and here’s a little spot Sarah and I discovered last year.  This year crabbing signs have been added.

AND ONE MORE BONUS SHOT….

Where/What is it?: Down by the docks in Chincoteague Island, VA (city)

Why I Like It: White waiting for the sun to set, I couldn’t help but write a message in the sand.  I can just imagine a grizzly fisherman coming across it, can’t you?

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Pride and Perfectionism

26 Aug

I joke about being the queen of typos and editing errors.  But underneath my self-depreciating humor, I hate myself for making simple mistakes—on math tests in elementary school (is it any wonder why I hate math?),  in the college newspaper when I was editor, on papers I handed in at seminary, and on this blog post.  For some reason, I stare until I’m cross-eyed but a little typo or grammatical error also escapes by vigilant efforts.

I HATE MAKING MISTAKES!!!  Especially stupid ones that could’ve been easily prevented if I JUST PAID MORE ATTENTION. 

If I just worked harder.

If I wasn’t so…me.

To err is human or so the oft-quoted cliché says, but I want to be super-human, or at least the best version of myself.  Unfortunately, the best version of me is still prone to errors, faults, cracks, and bumps.  Truly, to err is human because humanity is in this fallen state.

While all these mistakes seen like a funny, frazzled part of my personality, I wonder if I’ll ever stop hitting my head against the wall for doing what is simply human.  Why can I forgive the shortcomings of others and yet beat myself black and blue? 

Somehow I believed the lie that I SHOULD be perfect, that I won’t make mistakes, that I can do it myself. And when I don’t measure up (and I will never measure up), I am a failure, a waste of space, useless, and I curse the day I was born.  I wonder if the world would be better off without someone who makes so many mistakes, who has so many faults. 

Notice the focus is on me, myself and uh, me.  There’s no room for grace.  Mercy has no place on my throne because my life and my performance reflects who I am, not Whose I am.  Oh, I can pretty it up with some spiritual lingo about how I want to give God my best.  But it’s not really God who I am worried about, I know He’ll forgive me.  I’m worried about what other people will think about my stupid mistakes.  I am more concerned about you seeing my faults and cracks. 

When you see my faulted humanity, I feel naked, weak, and exposed.  I feel less than you and I feel afraid that you will really see me and reject me.  One more mistake and you may lose faith in me, walk away from me, or give up on me.

So I’d rather throw white-out on those errors.  Maybe you’ll see a bump of what was supposed to  be there, but that’s between God and me.  Besides, you have bumps of your own.  You know you do.  I’ll hide my bumps and you keep those skeletons in your closet…and we’ll be just fine.

We’ll be just fine.

Except we’re not fine, are we?  We’re wearing masks and living lies.  I’m not saying that we have to out every single mistake we make.  I simply wonder what life would look like if we were a little more honest.  Weakness and humility throws pride to the floor because through our weakness and failures, God gets the glory.  There are so many situations when He worked in spite of my mistakes, but because of my submission to Him.

Like Paul, I want to start boasting about my failures, my shortcomings, and errors.  I want to stop screaming, “REWRITE!” whenever my life takes a plot-twist I dislike. I want to allow God to use all these things, even the bumps, to bring Him more glory.

Perfectionism is a pretty way of saying “prideful.”  And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being full of myself.  It allows very little room for God to work.  This isn’t going to be an easy process, but at the end of me is where God starts.   

Let God start here and now.  Uncover my bumps.  Use my mistakes.  Make Your glory known.

Broken and Not So Broken

6 Jun

This is my walking boot. I decorate it, of course.

“God, I’m in the place again/I’m trying so hard not to fall/But everything keeps coming down with the rain.”–Everyday Sunday

I’ve always appreciated melancholy songs.  There’s something about the toned down, raw nature of a rock band that grips my heart and makes me pay attention, like KISS’s “Beth” or Five Iron Frenzy’s “Every New Day.”  (Yes, I just mentioned KISS and Five Iron Frenzy in the same sentence.  Incidentally, “Beth” is the only KISS song I know.)

Since lyrics and song melodies move me, it’s understandable why I’ve danced my way into the genre of singer/songwriter in my old(er) age (though I still enjoy Southern rock, like Credence Clearwater Revival and more recently, NeedToBreathe.)  Lately, it seems, I find comfort in the likes of Bebo Norman (surprise, surpise!), JJ Heller, Audrey Assad, Josh Wilson, and Andrew Peterson.

See, I haven’t had an easy go of things lately.  In mid-May, I broke my left foot. Yes, friends, another broken foot.  As you may recall, I broke my right foot about 15 months ago…and the healing process for the right foot has been excruciatingly slow.  After a couple tests, my foot doctor discovered my Vitamin D level to be pitifully low and started me on a regimen 50,000 units of Vitamin D weekly.  That’s the boring medical part.

This happened a week after I made some changes in my life, after all night prayer sessions, talks with my pastor, and weeping before the Lord, I felt Him saying to me, as He said to Elijah as he ran for his life from evil Queen Jezebel, “The journey has been too much for you.  Rest now, My child, I will take care of the details.”  Two weeks after resigning as lead of a ministry and falling into a more manageable role on the leadership team, I broke my foot simply by getting up from (or rather down) from one of our counter height dining room chairs.

This started a longer-than-I-anticipated journey of rest–no driving, walking around with a rollator (rolling walker), going down the stairs with a cane, needing assistance with normal tasks like showering, shopping, and getting here and there.  Oh, and of course, resting with my legs elevated to improve healing time.  Alone all day in my apartment.  It sounds perfectly lovely to harried people who could use a day off, but it’s house arrest for a social, relational woman like me.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to God and listening to music.  At first, I was struck with severe anxiety, which I believe was my anxiety disorder as well as a spiritual attack from the enemy.  I cried–wailed actually–and copied psalm after psalm from the Bible into my journal.  My fervency for God was strong and trust was a moment by moment walk.  While I don’t miss the panic attacks and tears, I wish I could maintain the level of urgency for God and His Holy Word when I’m not in the throes of fear.

I don’t always listen to music.  I like silence, too.  I can hear the birds singing merrily, the engine of the mail truck, laughter and screams from neighborhood children, the clink of my dog’s tags as she roams about the apartment, and my cockatiel’s own chirps.  So many ordinary sounds that make up the backdrop of this orchestra called life…and most of the time, I barely notice.

And I’m reading.  As much as I love to read, I don’t always make time for it.  Besides my Bible study reading (The Story and Crazy Love) and my daily devotional, Jesus Calling, I’m juggling three books right now–One Thousand Gifts, The Parable of Joy, and The Covenant Child.  My attention span seems to have increased as a result of my sitting in this stillness.

My writing life has been rich, though much of it has come alive in my journal–private conversations between God and me.  While this isn’t a measurable source of earthly wealth, it is the most important writing that I can do.  I call it “holy writing.”  If my purpose here on earth is to bring glory and honor to God, then my writing–for Him and Him alone–can have no higher calling.  Face down before the Throne of God, I write and write, like some ancient, inspired scribe.  Perhaps I will pick out thoughts to blog about here.  Or maybe write that book I’m always thinking about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would never have chosen this path, but I am learning to be thankful for it.  I am grateful for the friends God has given to support me in this time.  It’s funny how my One Word for 2013 is LOVED and He is showing me how LOVED I really am! (Even when I start to believe the lie that no one cares, including God.)  Who would have thought the path to knowing I am LOVED would come with so much pain and brokenness–the actual physical breaking of another bone?  It seems all paths are littered with sorrow and suffering.  Is it any wonder that these are little Much Afraid’s guides to the high places in Hind’s Feet on High Places? (I plan to re-read the book as soon as I finish The Covenant Child.)

I am loved.  It rings loudly and clearly throughout my days, and it is revealed through so many ways and so many people.

If I hadn’t broken my left foot, my small group leader wouldn’t have moved our Bible study into her living room so I could attend showing me that I am LOVED.  (Thanks, Amanda!)

Nor would I have received a ride to the Bible study I lead from one of the attendees.  (Thanks, Patty!)

I would never have trusted God to help me make it up to the choir loft for praise team or give me strength to sing when my jaw ached with TMJD pain.  (Thanks to the Praise Team for their encouragement!)

I have moments of despair, when I feel God’s touch or receive a phone call or text or Facebook message.  These are precious things I gather into my heart.  Someone is praying or God is teaching me to trust Him more and more.  I hate the aloneness, and I love the intimacy with God.

If this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.  Perhaps I’d write something else, or maybe nothing at all.  I know not the path I would’ve taken and it hardly matters because this is where I am.  Everything around me is speaking to me–the book One Thousands Gifts, reading the book of Ruth this morning (I was struck that Naomi was so very bitter and yet so very blessed through Ruth in the end.  In the middle, it seemed she would never have joy again), and in watching The Fellowship of the Ring last week. (Frodo never CHOSE for the ring to come into his possession, yet it did.  Yet he carried the burden anyway.  He chose to do the right thing in the midst of his circumstances.)

It’s a conscious choice, this choosing to be thankful and grateful in the midst of this disappointment.  Perhaps it’s a divine appointment to receive greater joy.  That’s an encouraging thought, isn’t it?

Tell me, how has God taught you to be faithful or thankful in the midst of something hard or disappointing?  What have you been reading lately?  Do you miss the fervency of intimacy with God when you aren’t going through trials?

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