Friday Favorites ~ Birthday Edition

My birthday was Wednesday and turning 51 was a lowkey event and lovely. The kids gave me a beautiful Willow Tree figurine and it seems I am finally going to actually start collecting them and that makes me happy.

Rob got me a thingie called an expo card that helps set accurate white balance when taking pictures and I am looking forward to working with that but what I am most excited about is the set of extension tubes he gave me. They are a poor man’s answer to a macro lens and they worked so much better than I expected! A good dedicated macro lens is going to range in price anywhere from $400 to $1200 and while it would be nice to have one I just can’t see spending that kind of money on “nice”.

Enter the extension tubes. They work great for a macro hobbyist who is just doing occasional up close work. Metal rings that attach to the camera, literally extend your lens so it can function as a macro. The set came with three different sizes and what is pretty cool is that they can be stacked to achieve different focal lengths.

I took around 275 pictures yesterday morning just getting a feel for them. Any macro lens gives you an incredibly narrow depth of field which means focus can be hard to nail. Pardon me while I geek out, but it was just so much fun to play around with!

This was one of my first successful shots.

I received some beautiful birthday flowers from friends and they came in quite handy as a practice subject.

And of course I needed to see how cheerios looked through the tubes.

I braved the cold (winter has arrived in Louisiana!) long enough to do a couple of random outside shots.

I’m hoping that as I practice I will get really good at macro work. There is something special about focusing in on the very small details that we usually just glance over. Almost like God is sharing a secret with us. Not sure what the secret in cheerios is but… 🙂

Always happy to get suggestions for photo ideas so feel free to share any you have.

You can use this link to check out some really amazing macro photographers who are most likely not using extension tubes 😉

Think On These Things ~ James 5:13-16

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

~ James 5:13-16

A Friday Favorite

Wasn’t yesterday simply glorious? The weather was so perfect! The only issue I had with it is that the perfect spring day really shouldn’t show itself in early January but what is there to do other than enjoy it?

The puppies had a great day and Rob worked on building them a sort of dog run/pen that will be great for them. It is amazing how quickly they are growing and running out of good space in the laundry room. (While I am somewhat sure they could safely be inside the main part of the house without accidents now they have no self control around the cats. We tried. We will not be doing that again anytime soon.) They love being outside though so the space Rob is making for them will be perfect. Plenty of sunshine but around a tree and safe from scooting under the big fence into the horse field behind us and eating things that ought not to be eaten by anyone.

I took advantage of the beautiful weather to repot some house plants I recently bought. Over the last five years or so I learned that I could actually keep plants alive but unfortunately when we made the move from Florida I didn’t have room to bring all of them with me. I brought a few of the ones I had had the longest and now I am working to add more to our home. I love having fresh flowers in the house but I also really enjoy nice green plants. They add such a touch of life to a home, don’t you think?

I rescued this little guy from the clearance section at Walmart a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure where I am going to put him yet but I am sure I will find the right spot.

Even though I have been working with houseplants for a few years I still consider myself a novice. Because of this if I am not careful I end up honing in on one or two types of plants and only using them but I really want to broaden my green thumb. I didn’t have one of these (Please don’t ask its name…I forgot to keep the little plastic thing that came with it with that information.) I choose it because of the variegated greens on the leaves. It’s so bright and lively.

It found a nice home in our entryway which is still a work in progress. Rob is going to paint it using the same color he put in our bedroom; and we are looking for just the right table or hall tree to be a focal point. Then a rug and stuff on the walls but we really don’t want to rush just to have something there so patience is called for. But until then I wanted something to make it look less empty and undone.

The last plant to be potted is one that I already have that does well. He adds just the right color and look to our fireplace ledge. Most of the time I stick with white pots but this little guy came with the additional turquoise~esque one and it ties in nicely with the couch pillows so I decided to use it.

I’m thinking there might still be a few things to tweak yet here but I like how things are right now so I am content to make changes only when the right thing shows itself. I’m learning the value in waiting even as I balance my nesting and the desire to have everything settled and done.

I think one of the reasons I love house plants so much is the simplicity but gentle vitality they add to a room. Someone once said that having a beautiful plant is like having a friend around the house. I like that thought, don’t you?

Think On These Things ~ Psalm 112

Praise the LORD!

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,

who greatly delights in his commandments!

His offspring will be mighty in the land;

the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are in his house,

and his righteousness endures forever.

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;

he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;

who conducts his affairs with justice.

For the righteous will never be moved;

he will be remembered forever.

He is not afraid of bad news;

his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,

until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever;

his horn is exalted in honor.

The wicked man sees it and is angry;

he gnashes his teeth and melts away;

the desire of the wicked will perish!

The Power of Prayer

I have people in the midwest that I am praying for right now, a family in China as well.

I have people in Florida that I pray for daily and weekly.

I have people, new friends here in Sulphur, that I pray for regularly.

Some of the prayers are general in detail, others specific to situations.

To be honest, I am not really sure exactly how prayer works and recently had a light bulb moment that my own belief in the sovereignty of God, was at times, a stumbling block to my prayers.

I’m not questioning His sovereign rule over all things; that all things come by His hand. Rather, I don’t understand necessarily how my prayers fit within that and rather than ask as a child fully expecting a father to answer I was qualifying my prayers with too much, “If it’s your will…” not really believing an answer would come. Sort of like it was becoming a get out of jail free card I was giving to God so I didn’t have to be sad or angry or disappointed if he didn’t answer the way I wanted or seemingly at all.

He is not bound by my will or the desired outcomes I am asking for; I am bound by His will and the work He is doing in the lives and situations of those I pray for and about. I don’t have to remind Him of what I might want and qualify it with “Really Lord, only if it’s what You truly want.” His perfect will is always being done. There is comfort in that.

Something else about prayer that I just realized the other morning is the way prayer connects us, the prayerer and the prayee. Obviously the idea of entering into each others suffering and bearing with one another as a part of praying is real and true. (This is one of the reasons I think ministers can be worn down and fatigued to the point of burnout. When they truly walk alongside their congregants, praying for them in all the various and sundry situations we humans go through, they are taking on the burden of that person. So they may not be battling cancer or emotional trauma or what have you but they are taking on a weight that is multiplied by the number of people they minister to. The tip here is that as you pray for your pastor you help ease the burden he takes on as he prays for you and others.)

We don’t live in a vacuum. Our actions, sinful and otherwise, have an affect on the other people around us. Prayer doesn’t happen in a vacuum either and the effect works, in my opinion, in a sort of reverse way in that when I pray on someone’s behalf it can also cause me to be changed or challenged either directly or indirectly in some manner.

Here is an example of a direct connection. If I am praying that my daughter Claire would love correction, something we should all love, then I need to also pray for myself and how I am correcting her. Am I correcting her out of frustration or annoyance? Am I correcting her with a view toward godliness or just wanting her to do things the way I think they ought to be done? Is being “right” more important to me than her personhood? Am I nitpicking?

My prayer for her to love correction should cause me to examine my own reasons for wanting her to love correction as well as my own willingness to be corrected.

Indirectly, I may be challenged to love my husband better as I pray for a friend who wishes to be more joyful in her submission to her husband. I may become convicted of areas where I ought to practice more acts of mercy by providing a meal or dropping a get well soon card in the mail for someone who is sick. If I see someone who seems to be struggling with pride or some other sinful behavior as I pray for them it can be a good way for me to check myself for those same besetting sins in my own heart. We tend to see them more quickly and certainly more clearly in those around us. At least I do.

Prayer changes us in ways I cannot even comprehend much less really understand but I am becoming more and more enchanted and grateful for what a gift this tool is in the christian life. I believe genuine prayer is going to grow compassion and repentance, contentment and joy within our spirits; our connection to our Father and to each other is only deepened and strengthened by this odd, hard to understand practice.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will 
he hears us. I John 5:14

May we be confident is our asking, expecting our Father who loves us to answer.

What are you praying for?

It’s All Good

I was having a bit of a rough minute this morning.

Rob has been out of town all week and I am ready for him to be home. I have a few things weighing on my mind and the pups were/are being a bit of a handful. To top it off my emotions seem to be a bit, shall we say, emotional?

All in all, I was feeling a tad sorry for myself but trying to buck up and give myself a pep talk. In the course of said pep talk I was reminding myself of Psalm 139 and encouraging myself to remember that God knows my frame; I’m fine. Everything is fine.

I sit at the dining room table in the morning to read my Bible and go over my prayer cards. I refreshed my cup of coffee and sat down deciding to read Psalm 139 in full.

I literally laughed out loud as I read verses 11 & 12 because in that exact moment the sun rose just enough above the trees to flood my table with its glow.

“If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

Such a funny and sweet reminder from Him not to let myself get overwhelmed. As if He wore glasses He’d be looking over the top of them saying, “You’re fine.”

And it’s true.

It’s all good.

Think On These Things ~ Psalm 19:7-1

The law of the LORD is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure,

making wise the simple;

the precepts of the LORD are right,

rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is pure,

enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the LORD is clean,

enduring forever;

the rules of the LORD are true,

and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey

and drippings of the honeycomb.

Psalm 19:7-10