2017: Page 143

Page 143 was a warm but breezy day.  I slept a little past sunrise this morning, so I guess the resting is beginning to reset my body clock.  A heavy cloud cover came with the strong breeze, so I don’t think I missed much of a sunrise anyway.  The day was spent at a couple different county parks where we were able to view and photograph a variety of beautiful scenes and birds.  We managed to catch sight of a couple different groups of dolphin, but none were at a good location to photograph.  We even found a couple different bald eagle nests, but the eagles were either hunkered down out of the wind and out of sight or were out catching the next meal.

Today’s photo is of a duck-type bird feeding one of her young.  I’m not sure I would be all that thrilled about a serving of fresh algae, but this seemed to satisfy the young.  As I read social media, there are many times that individuals get all bent out of shape in regard to how someone else raises their young.  I understand that there are people who mistreat their children and abuse them in a myriad of ways, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  Far too often, people are quick to criticize simple decisions that are not right and wrong issues but rather issues of parent and/or child preference.  It would be like me criticizing this mother for giving her young algae to eat when I don’t even know what kind of bird it is, let alone what the young prefer and what is best for it.  It seems like social media is often an instrument completely devoid of understanding and grace.  It doesn’t seem to matter what the topic, people are quick to become angry and judgmental regardless of how many facts they know . . . or more likely, don’t know.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Learning to rest can be difficult to someone used to an early morning work routine.
  • When I go out to take photos, I don’t always find what I’m looking for but I’m more likely to find something to photograph if I look.
  • When we seek God with our whole heart, we don’t always find what we expect but we always find God . . . that’s His promise.
  • I don’t have to know what something is, or understand it, to appreciate its beauty.
  • God wants our conversations to be seasoned liberally with grace — that includes our social media conversations.
  • People are different.  Some of us are more different than others. 🙂
  • God’s standard of right and wrong never changes and is always accurate . . . but fortunately, it always comes with a generous portion of grace.

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2017: Page 142

Page 142 has been a relaxing day even though I’m still in the habit of waking up early.  The early wake-up was actually a bonus as I was able to see about eight dolphin playing in the intercoastal waterway out our back door.  As the sun finished rising, they made their way to wherever they were heading for the day so I went inside for some breakfast and to see if the rest of my family was ready to start the day.  Once everyone was ready, we headed out and spent some time at a nature preserve in the morning, and then after lunch we headed to the beach.  

Today’s photo is of a pelican enjoying a meal he had just caught while a gull is coming in to see if he can get a free meal out of the deal.  I watched this pelican for some time as it would glide above the shoreline and then dive into the water for a tasty fish dinner.  Each time he dove into the water, he was immediately surrounded by gulls that were hoping for a chance at leftovers.  It made me think about how often people flock to something that appears to be successful rather than put in the work necessary on their own in order to have their own success.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Sometimes I’m awake when I think I ought to be sleeping.  Those are always good times to see what God may be trying to teach or show me.
  • Some opportunities only present themselves for a short time — you either have to make the most of it while you can, or miss it altogether.
  • Working hard will often attract people who want to benefit from your hard work — do your work as if working for the Lord anyway.
  • Rest is a process of surrender.

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2017: Page 141

Page 141 was day one of a family vacation.  I’m thinking that may mean my daily pages are abbreviated to a daily photo and perhaps a few thoughts on the day and/or the photo.  We had originally planned on taking two days and driving down to Florida but found a good rate on flights, so we flew down.  This may have been one of the smoothest flights we’ve taken, as far as the process went.  It never felt like we were waiting very long at any point of the check-in, security, or boarding process.  

Today’s photo is of a “skimmer” in action.  These birds cruise the shoreline with open beak, skimming the surface of the water to scoop up an evening meal.  While these were skimming the surface, other birds were diving into the breaking waves hoping to catch their meal in a different manner.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Sometimes even good routines need to change in order to focus on something different for a time.
  • If  your focus is on the destination, a smooth journey is a bonus — the real reward is reaching the destination regardless of how the journey goes.
  • God has provided food for the birds of the air but they don’t all get that food in the same manner — in fact, not all birds were created to survive on the same diet.  
  • God made you to be unique as you serve Him and thrive in the environment He created you for.

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2017: Page 140

After working late Friday night, page 140 began early with the sounds of Susan in a seizure.  It wasn’t a major one and didn’t last long, so we all went back to sleep for a while.  Once I woke up for the day, I turned my attention to writing yesterday’s page.  The rest of the day has been spent relaxing and getting ready for some vacation time with my family.  It made me think of the wise words I heard years ago about how to correctly pack for a vacation.  They said the process is simple.  Once you’re ready and just before you leave, you open up each suitcase and take out half of the clothes.  Then you open up your wallet and double whatever cash you had planned on taking.  🙂 I know, in today’s culture where everything is put on a card and very little cash is used, the instructions may need a little modification but other than that, it seems like sound advice to me.

Today was another day with no new photos, so the photo for today’s page comes from our family vacation four years ago.  They dolphins are fun to watch as they play in the Gulf of Mexico and along the intercoastal waterway.  Each sighting turns into a photo opportunity and a desire to see more.  

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • A loved one in need motivates most people to action.
  • Would godly love for all people change how we act toward them?
  • If social media is any indication, I live in a nation full of angry people.
  • Some people spend more time and effort planning for a short vacation than they do for eternity.
  • If I respond in anger to things that make me angry, all I do is escalate the anger rather than share God’s love.
  • Hateful responses to angry words will rarely change anybody’s mind.
  • Peaceful words, like peaceful scenes, tend to attract people who want peace in their life.
  • Having a glimpse of godly joy in others will almost always create a desire within you to taste of that joy yourself.

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2017: Page 139

Friday was a long workday as expected, so page 139 is being written the next morning.  I finally slept all the way up to my alarm going off so I felt a little more rested as I got up and headed into work.  The first thing that got my attention as I left the house was the need for a jacket.  After two days of temperatures above eighty degrees, it was going to be a struggle for this day to make it out of the forties.  The moon was shining bright overhead but the clouds were beginning to gather in the western sky.  As I went about my morning cleaning tasks, the day began to arrive with increasing light.  The official sunrise time is early enough now that it occurs in the middle of my usual morning routine.  Daylight always makes me feel better, so I am happy to see it begin earlier each day — at least while I need to do the early morning cleaning.

Once the building was ready for the day, I spent some time correcting the prayer guide I had scheduled for the first week of June.  After writing it yesterday, I had somehow sent a different one to the office to be used for the June 4 bulletin.  Fortunately that was an easy thing to correct.  It was the last day of preschool for the school year, so I kept an eye on Susan while MJ was busy with the graduation tasks and ceremony.  Once the students and family members were gone, I went out to begin round one of the mowing for the day.  I had been watching the weather radar, as they were calling for rain, and it looked like I would have a couple decent windows of time between rains throughout the day to get all the lawn mowed.  After mowing what I could around the building without disturbing any of the school classes going on, it was time to head inside for a break to warm up.  

After a cup of coffee and some chocolate, I went outside to begin round two of the mowing.  I knew I would need to get fuel for the mower before finishing for the day, but it felt like rain was on the way so I decided to mow what I could and go get fuel during the rain chased me inside.  I had most of what I wanted to mow in the back field done when a light drizzle began.  It was light enough, and I was dressed warmly enough, that I kept mowing until the back play field was done and all I would have left for later was a little bit around the building and the front lawns.  As I pulled up to the garage to put the mower away during the rain, a friend was unloading some lumber for an eventual ga-ga ball pit on the property.  I helped him unload his truck and then as I went to back the lawnmower into the garage, it died.  I restarted it and moved it about two feet before it died again.  Yep, it was out of fuel in the doorway of the garage.  We pushed it into the garage and I went inside to warm up once again before going to get a late afternoon lunch and some fuel for the mower.

It was still raining when I got back from lunch so I began a few cleaning projects to start getting the building ready for Sunday.  With an eye on the radar, it looked like it wouldn’t be long before the rain would move through and I would have a clearing to finish the mowing.  Sure enough, a little before six the rain stopped and I bundled up and went out to mow.  I may have mowed for half an hour before the drizzle returned, but my snow shoveling jacket kept me both warm and dry as I spent the next hour and a half mowing in the light rain.  Dry, that is, until my final section of mowing took me along the edge of the woods and as I mowed under the overhanging branches, I brushed against them enough that they released all of the moisture they held right down my back.  If I was tired before, I sure was awake now!  After putting the mower away, it was once again back inside to warm up and then finish the cleaning and prep to get the building ready for Sunday.  All in all, it was a good productive day and while the rain may have dampened my clothes and body, it surely didn’t dampen my spirit.

With the day busy from beginning to end, I took no new photos although in my final warm up time in the office, a beautiful woodpecker showed up outside my window while I was caught with no camera in the office and not enough light for a photo if I would have had a camera with me.  Instead, today’s photo is one from Thursday as I looked out over the lake at Potato Creek on a sunny, eighty-five degree afternoon.  It represents the peace that I had, not only during that time at the lake, but also during the cold, rainy day of mowing.  It’s a peace that God puts within me as I trust Him so the circumstances of the day don’t have the power to remove it — only I decide if it stays or not.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • The weather is a good reminder that in life what you are experiencing now may not be the same as what tomorrow will bring.   
  • While I don’t know the details of tomorrow, I do know the One who does — and I choose to trust Him.
  • Mowing is nicer when it is warm and sunny but for me, it is still relaxing to spend that time with God even when it is cold and drizzling.
  • There will be unpleasant times in life.  That doesn’t mean we have to become unpleasant people.
  • We often reflect the attitudes that people have toward us.  It would be much better if we reflected that attitude God has toward us.
  • True peace comes from our relationship with God regardless of our circumstances.

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2017: Page 138

As expected, I was awake before the alarm went off so it was probably a wise decision to sleep last night and clean when I got up this morning.  The sky was clear when I went out to the truck on my way to work and the moon was shining brightly overhead.  With a long workday ahead tomorrow, my plan was to get today’s cleaning done then finish writing a prayer guide before heading back home.  The cleaning and building prep were routine with no surprises — just the way I like it. 🙂  As I spent time with God focused on the prayer guide, I settled on the topic of sacrificial service.  God calls each of us to serve Him through our service to one another and many times that service compels us to sacrifice something of our self.  

By mid-morning I had the prayer guide written and then formatted and scheduled it to be posted and sent out Memorial Day weekend.  Once I was done with that, I realized that I would be gone through Memorial Day and since Mondays are my usual day to write the prayer guides, I started on the next one instead of going home early.  As I thought about the prayer guide I had just written, the idea of body building came to mind for the next one.  And no, it won’t address how to increase your muscle mass or get your body into shape physically.  Instead it will focus our prayers each day on different aspects of how we ought to be involved in building up the body of Christ through the gifting and abilities God has put into our life.  With the early start, by the time this prayer guide was completed and scheduled, I had put in a full day of work and it was time to get some lunch and call it a day as far as work was concerned.

After lunch I decided to make a quick trip to Potato Creek to take a short walk and see what I could find to photograph.  It was rather windy so while I could hear many of the songbirds, the sound came from within the depths of the brush where I couldn’t see the source.  The large birds, however, seemed to be enjoying the wind.  The osprey and heron could be seen soaring on the wind currents as they would float one way and then the other with little visible effort.  Today’s photo is one of the blue herons gliding in front of a backdrop of tree foliage.  Without looking closely, he could easily blend into the background and not be seen by a casual observer.  It made me think about how we tend to soar through life.  Some people go out of their way to be noticed while others do everything they can to blend into their surroundings.  God’s desire for us is something different than either of those things.  He wants us to let our light shine in such a way that people see our good works and glorify Him!  He doesn’t want us focused on trying to get ourselves noticed and He doesn’t want us hiding our light under a basket.  He wants to be seen in and through us by all who would observe our life.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • For a guy who never liked waking up in the morning, I’m finding that I enjoy the peaceful quiet that an early morning can bring.
  • My plans need to be written in pencil, if not in disappearing ink. 
  • When my life is invested in seeking God’s plans, I find I don’t get so bent out of shape when my plans don’t work out.
  • Sacrifice and service ought to be common words and practices among Christians.
  • While physical training has some benefit, spiritual body building has value that extends to eternity.
  • When we ride on the winds of God’s Spirit, we find that the work He does in and through us is completed apart from our effort.
  • God’s desire is that He is seen by the people who observe us.

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2017: Page 137

Page 137 began with a lot of cloud cover but the moon would peek out from behind the clouds on occasion as I made my way to work.  By the time I got to work the clouds were beginning to break up so I set up my camera to do a time-lapse recording of the sunrise.  While condensing 50 minutes of sunrise into 20 seconds, the clouds appeared to fly across the sky as they moved from the west and disappeared into the eastern horizon.  While it was recording, I did the daily cleaning and building prep as I prayed my way through the building.

Once the building was ready for the day and I had collected my camera to download the time-lapse video, I turned my attention to working on a prayer guide for the week after next as it needs to be ready a week early.  As it will be posted and published on Memorial Day weekend, I think I narrowed down the topic to something dealing with serving or remembering, or a combination of the two.  I also did some further work on outlining a workshop dealing with developing a lifestyle of prayer that I will be teaching this summer at at national student conference.  By mid-afternoon I had put in a full day and still needed to pick up some things from the store, so I headed for lunch and Sam’s Club.  After picking up the things I needed, I stopped by the river to take a short walk and shoot some photos.  Today’s photo is of a gosling who had been working on the grass in front of it.  It had a hold of a blade of grass or weed stem that seemed to be firmly attached to the ground.  I could see the gosling repeatedly tugging on it until finally it gave way and the gosling’s head flew up and its bottom hit the ground just as I snapped the photo.  You can still see that stem sticking out the side of the gosling’s beak and I chose the photo for today as a reminder of persistence.  Giving up can be a very tempting option, but it’s not a very Godly option unless we’re tugging at something that God hasn’t called us to.  God says the crown of life is given to the faithful — to those who have persevered to the end.  Following God and His ways is rarely the easy path through life, but through persistence it is the most rewarding path.

Being a Wednesday, I normally would have gone back to work and waited for the building to clear out so I could do the cleaning and prep to have it ready for tomorrow.  As I left the river, my energy level was near zero so I decided to call it a day and go in early in the morning since I’ve been waking up early each day anyhow.  I rested a little bit at home before taking care of a couple projects that needed done and then worked at getting the air conditioner going with the hopes that the bedroom will be more comfortable as I try to sleep tonight.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Sometimes it appears life isn’t moving at all until you look back and can see glimpses of where you’ve been.
  • When I set my mind to having a lifestyle of prayer, I find many things to pray about.
  • If I don’t set my mind to a lifestyle of prayer, I rarely see the things I ought to be praying about.
  • Honoring those who have given their life serving others is not just an American idea, it is God’s idea.
  • Discouragement often leads to giving up when persistence is needed.
  • Encouragement goes a long way toward helping a person persevere when times are difficult.
  • Sometimes it is important to know if the timing of your plans is your timing or God’s.  Setting aside my timing to do something later isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Setting aside God’s timing to do something later is not good.
  • Sometimes a little work when you’re weary can lead to better rest that is needed.

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